Geri Cameron: We must fix our broken education system
Geri Cameron is a school principal and president of the National Association of Head Teachers (NI):
Can you imagine if a school closed its doors for 1,000 days? The Jordanstown Agreement says that teachers must be available for 195 days each year, so in the education world 1,000 days equates to over five years. Imagine. A school closed for five years. Well, thankfully, that is not the case.
The education system in Northern Ireland is broken and we need someone to fix it.
Without political decisions being taken and more money reaching schools, who knows what the future will be for schools in Northern Ireland?
Every year there is a scramble for school places and children are left without a school placement, which is stressful for the child and the parent.
The process for identifying the right school environment for children with special educational needs is not working.
Right now, this very second, children in schools across Northern Ireland are being denied access to mental health support due to a lack of funding.
Vital support staff are being made redundant, roofs are leaking and there is not enough money for essential maintenance and capital work projects.
A lot of these issues can be avoided or minimised with forward planning and strategic thinking by political representatives and adequate funding being allocated to schools. This is not happening currently.
In a review of education funding in Northern Ireland, carried out by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, it was recognised that "the political deadlock at Stormont has meant that the education system has been unable to respond to the urgent challenges facing schools".
NAHT (NI) members are preparing to undertake action short of striking due to the inaction of the employing authorities in resolving ongoing issues.
It is impossible to say where we would be at this point if Stormont was up and running, but we could have at least brought the issues to a minister.
My message to every politician is simple: we need you to fix our education system now.