Belfast Telegraph

Almost half of Northern Ireland schools in budget deficit

Nearly half of all schools in Northern Ireland are in budget deficit, new figures have revealed.

The BBC reports that 446 schools are projected to be in the red in 2018, with 352 of these schools seeing their deficits get bigger since 2017/18.

This year, for the first time, the Education Authority has placed schools in Northern Ireland into a number of categories, depending on their budgetary situation.

There are 87 schools in the most serious category with deficit of more than 5% of their total yearly budget.

Some 130 schools have increasing deficits of more than 5% but are judged to be sustainable by the EA.

As a result of the worrying figures, the EA will appoint specialist staff to work with each of those 227 schools on their budget.

The EA has previously stated Northern Ireland schools were projected to overspend their budgets by around £33m in 2018/19 financial year, with the Northern Ireland Audit Office warning that school budgets have reduced by 10% in real terms over the past five years.

A number of head teachers in Norther Ireland have also said they cannot afford to send teachers to training that would help pupils with speech and language problems.

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Maghaberry Primary School principal Graham Gault

Graham Gault, principal of Maghaberry Primary School, told the Northern Ireland Affairs committee last month that parents were donating toilet rolls to his school because of funding constraints.

A spokesperson for the EA told the BBC it recognised schools were facing "unprecedented pressures.

"Many school leaders have told us of the intolerable strain that the deteriorating financial position has placed upon them," the spokesperson added.

"EA will continue to advocate for additional funding for schools and services to support schools, children and young people."

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