£700k wiped from South Tyrone schools

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South Tyrone and Fermanagh schools budget will be hit by a £700,000 cut next year, equivalent to 0.9% of their total spend, the new Education Minister Peter Weir has warned.

It is feared that the cut will result in job losses among teaching and classroom assistant staff, with some post-primary schools facing a £500,000 deficit.

The Department of Education is facing a cash reduction of £72m in its resource budget in 2016/17, and in March former Education Minister John O’Dowd announced the drastic cut to the Aggregated Schools Budget.

On top of absorbing this cut schools must also fund a 3.4% rise in employer National Insurance contributions - an average £70,000 increase per school - as well as a 4.1% rise in employer superannuation contributions and cost of living pay rises for staff of between 1% and 2.2%.

School leaders are now warning that if Stormont does not step in, they may be forced to take drastic action, including the introduction of shorter school days and cutting the number of subject choices at GCSE and A-Level.

“For schools in the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency, total delegated funding in 2016-17 is £76.9 million”, said Minister Weir. “This represents a reduction of £0.7 million or 0.9% compared to the previous financial year. Funding at individual school level will reflect both the overall levels of funding distributed and demographic changes within the school, in particular changes in pupil numbers.”