Belfast Telegraph

Teaching union in pledge to lobby for funds after budget for education is cut by £10m

By Rebecca Black

A teachers' union has pledged to launch a lobbying campaign on a scale never seen before to secure more money for education in Northern Ireland.

It emerged on Wednesday that funding for schools here in 2016/17 has been cut by £10m.

This comes after the Department of Education suffered a budget decrease for the coming financial year.

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) has declared it wants education at the top of the political agenda.

INTO northern secretary Gerry Murphy will address a conference today in Templepatrick attended by Education Minister John O'Dowd.

Mr O'Dowd has confirmed he will not return as minister after the May election, leading to speculation about which party will take over the portfolio.

Sinn Fein has held the Education brief since the return of devolution in 1998.

Speaking ahead of the INTO conference, Mr Murphy said he will tell delegates that the only way to secure more money for education is to ensure it is at the heart of the Executive's policy making.

"Our campaign will involve lobbying on a scale unprecedented in the North," he said.

"Our goal is to ensure our campaign will dominate the election trail. Education must be at the centre of discussions at every household door in Northern Ireland.

"Everyone wants the best for their children. This will be at the heart of our campaign.

"Education is not some luxury we can do without. And the people who deliver, every day, every year, are our teachers. They must be valued."

Mr Murphy said his members were concerned about the decline in school budgets and school governance.

"Support services for children have become reduced and access to them will become much more difficult," he said.

"Teachers are growing increasingly frustrated at their inability to access essential and necessary services for pupils in their care.

"In relation to school governance, as a trade union we will continue to seek to resolve issues which arise in schools.

"Rarely, case resolution becomes impossible, but this is often because governors refuse to take advice or act contrary to advice. We will be asking the minister at the conference to address this problem."

Belfast Telegraph

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