NIPSA Condemns Further
Education Cuts

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31 August 2017

Kieran Bannon, Deputy General Secretary of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA), the largest union representing support staff in the education sector, condemned the further cuts announced today affecting all primary and nursery schools. Mr Bannon said,

“These further cuts, like those that have gone before, are completely untenable. Some will say such statements are to be expected from trade unions but there is widespread condemnation about these cuts, including from the senior staff expected to keep services running.”

“In the last academic year we saw the unprecedented step taken by a significant number of Principals criticising the reduction in funding last year and refusing to cut back on service provision. This stand is to be commended. No longer can school support staff and teachers be placed in the position of being expected to maintain services with unrealistic budget cuts to then be made feel that they are in some way responsible for the current education crisis.”

Mr Bannon went on to say,

“There is no point in the Department drafting policy documents such as the Children’s and Young People’s Strategy that are full of pious sentiment when they starve the education system of the resources and funding necessary to deliver on them. “

“A number of school Principals rightly claim that the system is in crisis. Our members in the support services such as Classroom Assistant’s and Educational Welfare Officer’s know this only too well. NIPSA has already expressed deep concern at the growing number of vulnerable children and those with special educational needs. There are outstanding lists of these children waiting to be properly assessed (statemented) in order to determine how their needs will be addressed leading to school placements. In addition, at a time when more Classroom Assistants are required to provide vital support to these children our members in schools across Northern Ireland are having their hours cut due to budgetary restraints or having a number of their hours reclassified as General Assistant simply as a means of living within reduced budgets.”

Mr Bannon concluded,

“It is time for all trade unions in the education sector, staff at all levels, parents and guardians, educationalists, citizens of Northern Ireland at large to take a stand – to demand that the government and the Department stop cutting the education budget and instead provide the funding that is necessary to deliver on their stated objective of providing all our children and young people with the best start in life. It is not possible to educate and develop our children and young people if the appropriate funds are not made available. Let’s make sure we put the blame for the current crisis where it rightly belongs and stop the officialdom from seeking to deflect criticism from them to the dedicated support staff and teachers struggling to maintain services in the worst type of circumstances.”

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