Belfast Telegraph

NI education system is in crisis and needs more money: union

Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

A leading teachers' union says a report warning of a crisis in Northern Ireland's education system must act as "a wake-up call to politicians".

It comes after a powerful Westminster committee urged Karen Bradley to increase the education budget and introduce regulations previously agreed by the Assembly before its collapse.

The stark message was set out in a report by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, which warned that a growing funding gap has resulted in "unmanageable pressures" on school budgets.

The rising number of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) pupils is a key driver of the trend, MPs said.

A government spokesperson said it has received the committee's report and will respond fully in due course.

"The lack of an Executive and Assembly at Stormont has created pressures in Northern Ireland.

"That is why the Government is focused on the current talks process so that decisions on issues such as education can be made by the politicians who were elected to do so," he said.

The general secretary of the NASUWT teachers' union, Chris Keates, said: "The Committee has recognised that education in Northern Ireland is in crisis and schools urgently need more money to address the growing pressures facing staff, pupils and parents."

Children's Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma said the education budget must meet the needs of children, particularly those with special needs. She backed MPs' call for the "full implementation of Special Education Needs and Disability and the Children Services Co-operation Acts which were passed by the Assembly in 2016".

"I am frustrated that this is further evidence of the impact that no Executive is having on our children's education," she added.

Ulster Unionist education spokesperson Rosemary Barton said that in the ongoing absence of a minister, the government must now step in.

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