You may be considering contributing to the NI Affairs Committee inquiry into education funding in NI. The deadline for responses is 1700 on Friday 14 September 2018.
There is no template for a response to the inquiry but you can find the terms of reference and details of the inquiry here.
The IEF will be submitting our own response, speaking to the terms of reference and referring to our Alternative Manifesto. The Fund’s position is that there is no doubt that at school level there is a very real and urgent financial crisis, but that the answer to this is to tackle the divisive and expensive structure of the overall education system.
An independent opinion poll commissioned by the IEF earlier this year prompted parents to tell us of the evidence they see of budget cuts in schools. We continually hear that there is an urgent need for more money to be relayed to schools.
This crisis, though, is taking place in the context of an education system whose structure is complex and unwieldy: there are seven management bodies funded by DE; some small towns offer four types of school; we pay to transport pupils past local schools to reach equivalent schools of a different sector; and throughout the system there are tens of thousands of empty desks. The IEF argues that, if these issues were addressed, we would get better value for the money we spend on education in NI.
A reformed education system will bring the benefits of helping to unite the community, contributing to peace-building and readying pupils for the globalised, diverse world of work and civic activity. This is alongside the financial benefits to be gleaned, enabling more resources to reach classrooms and to be spent on maintaining buildings.
We have seen too many short-term solutions and minor adjustments which do not impact on the core character of an archaic, segregated system of schools. We need meaningful reform of the way education is planned, managed and delivered.
Our submission refers to research and evidence to support our case; some reports you may like to consider can be found referenced here and some facts and figures can be seen below:
The DE supports ten bodies relating to the planning, management and deliver of education in NI:
There are 1,153 primary and post-primary schools in Northern Ireland.
There are 42,000 surplus places across primary schools.
There are 21,000 surplus places across post-primary schools.
Spending per UK region on education per pupil:
In NI the education budget is above that of many regions in England, figures as supplied in NI Children’s Commissioner “Cost of Education” report Oct 2017
The DE supplied NICCY with the following table to clarify how much of this budget is actually spent at school level:
Department of Education infographic: