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Northern Ireland school principal says Education Authority is in 'meltdown'

Diane Dawson is the principal of Braniel Primary School in east Belfast. Credit: Google
Diane Dawson is the principal of Braniel Primary School in east Belfast. Credit: Google

A Northern Ireland school principal has claimed the Education Authority (EA) is in "meltdown".

Diane Dawson of Braniel Primary School in east Belfast said she has serious concerns about getting help for pupils and staff.

Ms Dawson has sent a letter, seen by BBC News NI, to the EA's chief executive Sara Long highlighting her concerns.

 "In my opinion, the Education Authority is in complete meltdown and I have never known such a crisis as this in my twelve years in post as a principal," she said.

The principal said she has been trying to support for two of her pupils with special educational needs (SEN), however none has been forthcoming.

"I keep knocking doors but there is no-one there," she wrote.

"Please appoint someone directly to resolve the situations for the two vulnerable children mentioned above."

Ms Dawson also attached a series of emails she sent to the EA, with one highlighting challenges providing help for a pupil with severe learning difficulties.

"I am not prepared to put this child through such a harrowing experience both for his health and safety and that of his peers," she stated.

She also said she had problems registering more than 100 pupils for free school meals at the start of the school term to changes to a computer system.

"Due to a change in how we receive files from the EA, including Free School Meal confirmation, I have not been able to access the vital information of which children in my school have been granted Free School Meals from 30 August 2019 until today!" her letter said.

"The context in which I am trying to meet the needs of my children, particularly my most vulnerable children, seems to be impossible," she said.

"I am now crying out, directly to you Ms Long, for help because I am at a loss as to where I can go."

The EA said it "giving careful consideration" to the issues raised in the letter and "will respond as soon as possible.

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