Education Authority chief: Schools can do no more to tackle funding crisis

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Many schools can do “no more” to save money amid “growing frustration” about the amount of funding available, the chief executive of the Education Authority has said.

In a a letter to Northern Ireland schools, Education Authority chief Sara Long told principals her organisation is “extremely mindful of the challenging circumstances” facing schools due to industrial action which has been ongoing since 2017.

Ms Long, who was appointed to the position of chief executive earlier this year, wrote: “We acknowledge your growing frustration with the lack of adequate funding to enable you to fully deliver high quality learning experiences for all children and young people.”

She also acknowledged that a request for a three-year financial plan for each school “may cause anxiety” but insisted the Education Authority would use these plans as “evidence necessary to capture the shortfall and to call for additional funding now and in the future”.

She added: “You and your governors are thanked for the commitment you have shown in seeking solutions to financial shortfalls and in making savings. We realise that for some schools there is no more that can be done to effect any further savings.”

Trade unions have been engaged in industrial action short of a strike for nearly three years in a dispute over pay.

Members of the teachers’ union NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers) have been refusing to co-operate with inspections, teacher planners or lesson plans to members of senior management, and a host of other forms of industrial action.

On the impact of the continued industrial action, Ms Long wrote to tell principals the Education Authority would be “flexible” when it comes to “improvement priorities”.

“I want to emphasise that we, in the Education Authority are extremely mindful of the challenging circumstances in which you and your leadership teams have been working since action short of strike began in January 2017,” she wrote.

“We are particularly conscious of your concerns and the resulting challenges you as school leaders face in effectively consulting on and planning for improvement priorities.”

She added: “In the meanwhile be assured of our flexibility in relation to the submission of plans.”