Savings of almost £200 million must be made in the next financial year. The Department of Education warns “there will be implications for jobs”.
The single biggest chunk is being taken away from schools. It is proposed that the aggregated schools budget be reduced in 2015/16 by £78.7 million – a seven per cent cut.
On average, every secondary school stands to lose an average of about £66,000, the equivalent of three teachers’ annual salaries. Schools are yet to learn their budget allocation for 2015/16.
Extra cash for education, believed to be in the region of £50 million, was found following a recent meeting of Executive ministers.
Unions, however, say there will still be significant cuts. Gerry Murphy, northern secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), says the additional money will help offset some pressures.
“INTO must, however, consider the overall impact of these monies and their outworking on the school community,” he said.
“We still have serious concerns that even with this money there remains the unacceptable prospect of around 900 teacher redundancies. The impact on front-line services will still be dramatic and parents and pupils will notice the outcome.”
There are fears of further significant budget reductions for at least the next four years. Unions say there are no proposals to address the negative impact on schools and pupils.
INTO is urging minister John O’Dowd to establish a taskforce to develop a long-term strategy to secure funding for education for at least the next 10 years.
“The education of our children is too important to be funded in such a haphazard manner,” Mr Murphy added. “Parents, pupils, teachers and the wider school community require and demand certainty.”