UFU concerned at planned budget cuts in rural areas

Tuesday, 6 February, 2018

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it is concerned that pre-school and primary school pupils attending rural schools will be worst affected by planned further cuts to the education budget.

UFU rural affairs chairperson, Joy Rollston says, “A lack of funding, particularly for rural schools would put even more pressure on teachers and pupils. More budget cuts would impact on the level of support we can offer children in the classroom and additional support for SEN pupils.”

With the political stalemate at Stormont continuing, it has proved difficult for issues with the education budget to be addressed.

“Principals, staff, parents and pupils, particularly those attending rural schools are being let down.  With the Education Authority (EA) refusing to approve the budget plans of 632 Northern Ireland schools, the EA is now in a position where by they can take more control of a school’s financial planning. If a rural school closes, it negatively impacts on the dynamics of that community. Our schools are the hub of that community,” says Ms Rollston.

Northern Ireland is home to some of the top achieving primary schools in the world, as recently highlighted by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016.  Ms Rollston added, “The threat of cuts to the education budget brings into question the ability of principals and teachers to continue to deliver a high standard of education.”

The UFU continues to monitor the situation closely.