Schools are at 'breaking point' due to budget cuts
As thousands of pupils prepare to return for the new school term, a principal has warned that the education system in Northern Ireland is at breaking point.
Geri Cameron, head of Loughshore Educational Resource Centre and president of the National Association of Head Teachers (NI), has called for urgent action to address the shortfall in funding.
"The current funding received by the Department of Education is simply not enough to meet the needs of children and young people," she said.
"Our school budgets have continued to shrink yet the school population is currently at its highest level since 1999.
"It's all leaving our education system is at breaking point."
Ms Cameron explained that earlier this month principals welcomed the launch of an inquiry into education funding here by the NI Affairs Committee.
"In the absence of a Stormont government we support that this inquiry is being conducted at the Parliamentary level," she said.
SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said the education system "is at a cliff-edge and unless urgent and effective action is taken, the futures of schools, teachers and children are in the balance".
"This time last year we revealed a £100 million black hole in the education budget. That hole is now only partially plugged with cuts to schools budgets across the North becoming a mainstay. This cannot continue and schools, their principals, can no longer be expected to balance their books and provide the same service."
Mr McCrossan also revealed that promised £140m state-of-the-art shared education facilities planned for Omagh could be shelved as they require ministerial sign-off.
"It is frustrating that without ministers in place and without sign-off for the Strule Campus, the scheme may not be able to proceed. This is hugely disappointing as the scheme has already been delayed time and time again," he added.