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Schools funding rethink is urged

14-06-2007

Schools funding rethink is urged

14/06/2007 The Belfast Telegraph

A change in the funding mechanism of Ulster schools would 'revolutionise' Northern Ireland's education system, it was claimed today.

Under present Department of Education funding arrangements, primary schools receive £1,500 less per child to educate students than their secondary counterparts.

The Ulster Teachers' Union (UTU) claims that a small proportion of the peace dividend could balance this funding inequality.

Earlier this month, over 360 primary head teachers from across the province held a crunch meeting in Cookstown.

They agreed a list of demands to be put to the Department of Education which included parity of funding between the primary and secondary sectors.

They are also calling for a moratorium on any further new education initiatives for the next three years, "vastly increased funding" for the revised curriculum and that computerised testing of pupils in P5 will not proceed until appropriate funding and training is in place.

A statement agreed by the Northern Ireland Primary Principals Action Group said: "The department needs to work quickly to rebuild the trust of primary principals who, for too long, have been working with grossly inadequate resources and trying to manage an ever increasing workload."

Stanley Poots, president of the Ulster Teachers' Union and principal of Dromara Primary in Co Down, said today: "Under the present system an 11-year-old child is 'worth' £1,500 less than a 12-year-old! There is just no justification for the differential that exists at present.

Mr Poots said class sizes could be reduced by using recently qualified teachers who are being forced to leave Northern Ireland to find work.

"We have many unemployed teachers who could be used to help reduce class sizes," he said.

"Equality of funding for primary schools to the same level as secondary schools would be the greatest positive change that could be made. It would revolutionise our whole system and make all the other changes facing teachers workable and meaningful."

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