Primary schools face ‘challenging times’ ahead

Principals of six local primary schools say they face challenging times ahead if the proposed school cuts which is expected to be as much as 7 per cent this financial year, goes ahead.

Principals of St. Colman’s PS and All Saints’ NU (Annaclone), St. Micheal’s PS (Finnis), St. Mary’s PS (Dechomet), St. Mary’s PS (Rathfriland), St. Patrick’s PS (Drumgreenagh) and St. Paul’s PS (Cabral) joined forces to issue a statement about the cuts.

They fear fear that there will be staff cuts and an increase in classroom sizes.

They have urged parents to contact their local MPs by the end of the month.

They say that the Department does not take into account the reductions in SEN, Home to School Transport, School Building, as well as maintenance and repairs.

“As a group of Principals we are astounded by these drastic cuts, the timing of the announcement and the limited time we have to respond,” the report read.

“For many primary schools this is one of the busiest times of the year for our schools, in addition, two weeks of the consultation period takes place over the Christmas holidays, giving us very little time to digest the severity of this proposal and respond by the consultation which has a closure date of December 29.

“Such cuts will affect all schools’ capacity to deliver a high quality education to our pupils and will undermine the quality of education across the entire school system.

“For most schools this reduction in spending will lead to reductions in staffing both in teaching and non-

teaching-early indications suggest that over 1000 jobs are at risk, class sizes will increase and there will be fewer resources especially in ICT.

“A reduction in staffing will mean that fewer staff will have a larger workload and this will impact on the health and welfare of staff and this coupled with changes to pension age will mean storing up difficulties for the future.

“This is a most challenging situation for education. It is essential that all parents and the wider community are fully informed of the consequences of these draconian cuts and the impact they will have on the children.

“For many years primary schools have been underfunded in comparison with our post primary colleagues.

“There is speculation that this is only the first round of cuts that schools will face. As Principals we urge

all of you to write to the Minister of Education and all politicians expressing your concerns.”

They urged everyone to email the Department of Education (budgetconsultation@deni.gov.uk)these cuts by the end of the month.