The savage cuts imposed on public services in Northern Ireland as a result of the Westminster Government’s austerity measures are set to devastate education provision, teachers attending the Annual Conference of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in Northern Ireland were told.
The Conference at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast debated the budget cuts following comments made by Education Minister John O’Dowd that 500 teaching jobs and 1,000 non-teaching jobs could be lost in one year alone.
A motion debated at the Conference says that “education is fundamental to economic prosperity and to social cohesion and that education must be fully protected from further savage cuts’ and calls on the Northern Ireland Assembly to ‘continue to invest in and prioritise education for the future of all who live and work in Northern Ireland.’
Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretarysaid: “The savage Westminster driven austerity measures will deal a major blow to vital public services in Northern Ireland, including education.
“If these cuts go ahead they will change the face of educational provision in Northern Ireland for generations to come.
“The high quality provision teachers have sought to deliver will be simply unsustainable if hundreds of jobs continue to be cut.
“Teachers working lives are already blighted by excessive workload, which can only increase if more jobs are lost and those remaining in schools are left to fill the gaps.
“Year on year the demands on teachers and the turbulence and uncertainty increase.
“Teachers’ dedication and commitment is being stretched to the limit.
“It is grossly unreasonable to expect them to continue to do more and more with less and less.
“Teachers deserve more from politicians and employers than declining pay levels, deteriorating conditions of service and job loss.
“A school’s most precious resource is its workforce. Cutting the workforce cuts the heart out of the school.”
Justin McCamphill, NASUWT National Official Northern Ireland, said: “Children and young people are entitled to be taught by those who are recognised and rewarded as highly skilled professionals and have working conditions which enable them to focus on teaching and learning.
“The NASUWT will continue to oppose these cuts and the planned redundancies which are a consequence of them.
“Education is vital to the economy. Investment in education is an investment in the future.”