Wherever you turn your head across the wide, colourful and ultimately incredibly expensive spectrum of education in Northern Ireland, the numbers simply don’t add up.
An independent review of education is under way and will look at how the multi-faceted system is funded.
Experts believe money is being thrown away, lost between the layers that have evolved to meet wants rather than needs.
As the current Assembly mandate came to a close, one of the most controversial bills to be passed was on integrated education.
Those backing the bill, from the Alliance Party’s Kellie Armstrong, did so because they believed the sector had not received enough support.
Those against argued the new legislation would put integrated education in a privileged position, elevating it above all the other sectors, to their financial detriment.
But what is revealed today (page 18) is that despite all the talk that integrated education is valued and supported, someone, somewhere, has not been counting the pennies.
Out of a £500m pot set aside over 10 years to support integrated education — something agreed as long ago as the 2014 Stormont House Agreement — only £37m has been spent.
Delve even deeper and you discover that of the money that was spent, some £16.58m went to shared education, which enables schools from different communities to work more closely together, not integrated education. They are not quite the same thing.
It begs the question, was there really any belief that integrated education has a key role to play in the future of Northern Ireland’s children?
Perhaps had there been some enthusiasm early on to see what could be done with the financial support.
Kellie Armstrong could have been saved six years of work to fight for integrated education’s place at the table. There might have been no need for legislation at all.
Northern Ireland has just under 70 formally integrated schools, educating around 7% of our pupil population. That plays into the hands of those who would seek to stifle it, but support in the community has been rising all the time. More schools are seeking to transform.
Funds are burning a hole in Executive pockets — pockets which are already full of holes, with money pouring out, down trouser legs and into drains. There should be no more waste.
The money is there to support integrated education. Finding the will seems to be the issue.