Northern Ireland education spending needs examination: NICCY report

A report into the costs to parents of sending a child to school in Northern Ireland has also highlighted inequality in the way education budgets are spent around the UK.  The document says Department of Education spending needs to be re-examined to see if more money could go to schools.

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) report, published earlier this month, is based on a survey of 1006 parents with 1620 school age children between them. The research looks at how much families had spent on equipment, meals, trips and other activities relating to school life.  However, it also looks at figures showing how much government money is spent in schools.

Northern Ireland education spending needs examination: NICCY reportThe study points out that at first glance the Northern Ireland education budget per child compares well with other areas of the UK.

However, the amount actually spent per pupil at school level is lower in Northern Ireland and the NICCY team concludes that this is leading to pressures on schools and parents:
“More of the funding allocated for education in Northern Ireland should be spent on direct education provision for children. A larger proportion of the education budget should be directed to schools so that they are not dependent on parents to provide funding.”

The paper points out that a higher proportion of education spending in NI goes to areas such as non-departmental public bodies and central administration.

Commenting on the findings, Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma said
Northern Ireland education spending needs examination: NICCY report“It is concerning that while we receive similar funding for education, we choose to spend less of it on educating our children and young people directly.  These figures suggest that there may be potential within existing resources to give more money to schools. This would require a re-examination of the cost of central administration”

The research, carried out earlier this year, found that on average parents spent £1222.30 per child on education in 2016. This was not only required for daily needs such as  meals, snacks and uniforms but also for contributions to school funds and buying equipment for lessons and homework.

You can download the NICCY report, A ‘free’ education? The cost of education in Northern Ireland here.

You can learn more about the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People on their website here.