Fundamental changes to how individual annual school budgets are calculated will have a negative impact on most local schools. That was the stark warning after it was recently revealed to the Education Committee at Stormont that huge numbers of schools would be receiving less money following a revision to the Common Funding Scheme.
East Antrim UUP MLA Roy Beggs Jnr said;
“Local schools definitely need to be aware of what the Department of Education is proposing. Following a raft of changes to how every schools annual budget is calculated, known as the Common Funding Formula, large numbers of local primaries and post primaries are going to be hit from next year onwards.
I have had sight of the hypothetical reworked budget for 2013-2014 had it been based on the revised calculations and it is clear that had these cuts been brought in this year they would have had a devastating impact on local schools and parents.
Using this year’s figures as a benchmark it is clear that when the changes are brought in from next April the cuts will be severe. The modelling for this year’s budgets reveal that schools affected would include Larne High School losing £ 23,942 from its budget, Greenisland Primary losing £19,883 and St Anthony’s Larne losing £17,767.”
Ulster Unionist education spokesperson and Vice Chair of the Committee at Stormont, Danny Kinahan MLA, added;
“On the whole, John O’Dowd’s proposed new funding model will leave the majority of schools worse off. I accept that not enough is being done to tackle social disadvantage in schools and particular the on-going correlation between disadvantage and education attainment is absolutely shameful.
I do not believe, however, that schools that are achieving or have an enrolment with fewer kids entitled to Free School Meals should have to carry the burden. It’s simply a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Over the summer months I wrote to every individual school in Northern Ireland, firstly to let them know that the Department was even proposing to reduce their budget and then secondly to ask them about the impact such a cut would have on their school. The responses were frightening – but an overall trend quickly developed; teachers, especially those working with children with special needs, will be laid off. That simply can’t be allowed to happen.
I would urge all schools, parents and the wider community to respond to this consultation, which runs until the 17th October, and call for a new formula which does not cut the budget of most schools here. Anyone who would wish to see for themselves the projected impact on school budgets can find the information at www.uup.org.”