Belfast Telegraph

Education chief's letter to Northern Ireland schools on 2018-19 budget [full text]

Schools have been told they face difficult decisions ahead as money is dished out for the forthcoming year. Below is the full text of a letter from the Department of Education's finance director Gary Fair to schools.

Dear Chairpersons of Board of Governors of Grant-Aided Schools School Budget Allocations 2018-19

I am writing to outline the budget position for schools for the 2018-19 financial year.

Following the NI Budget announcement by the Secretary of State on 8 March 2018, decisions have now been taken by the Department on the 2018-19 education budget.

The outcome for education is challenging and some very difficult decisions have had to be taken. While the Department has been able to maintain the total schools’ budget in cash terms at £1,167.5 million, it has not been possible to fund the additional pressures facing schools in 2018-19.

In addition, all school budgets must be managed on the assumption that there will be no further in-year allocations from the Department during 2018-19.

Summary totals of each school’s budget share, provided under the Common Funding Formula arrangements for 2018-19, have now been published on the Department’s website - School Budget Allocations 2018-19. The delegated budgets for all schools have been calculated based on the 2017-18 Common Funding Scheme, with the following adjustments:

- the previous Transition Fund, which was originally intended to be a one year adjustment in 2014-15, has now been subsumed into the formula funding share for all schools for 2018-19; and

- an adjustment has been made to the funding stream split, moving £2.4 million from the Post primary to the Nursery and Primary funding stream to reflect demographic changes and to moderate changes to the AWPU cash value within the two formula streams.

It is important that firm financial management and budgetary discretion is applied and that you take immediate action to review your school’s budget position, to enable difficult decisions to be taken now to ensure that you live within your allocation for 2018-19. While responsibility for agreeing a financial plan rests first and foremost with the board of governors in each school, it is important that, following their robust review and challenge, any outstanding concerns are immediately brought to the attention of the Education Authority to ensure that necessary actions are taken.

I fully appreciate the difficulties that this budget outcome will mean for schools and I do not underestimate the challenges ahead.

Yours sincerely

Gary Fair.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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