Attending a consultation at Stormont with the Education Committee last week, Councillor Lawther said the overwhelming message from the 100 people gathered – including Head Teachers, Board of Governors and other education experts – was that the Minister’s proposals were ‘flawed’.
All sectors were represented, including Nursery schools, primary schools, secondary schools and Grammar schools.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Alan Lawther said: “It was tremendous that there was such a consistent message from so many experts about the Minister’s proposals. After over an hour of discussion there was complete agreement that the proposals were flawed.
“No one wanted to see any financial losers and there were grave doubts that the reallocation of money would effectively address any educational disadvantage.
“I was attending this meeting as Chair of Templepatrick Primary Finance committee, which could lose well over £20,000 each year if the proposals go ahead. This size of saving can only be achieved by reducing staff hours and so pupils’ education would suffer.
“It was clear among all the primary school principals I spoke to that this was going to have to happen in all schools hit by these proposals. In all there is about £1,000,000 being taken out of the primary sector in the NEELB area which is a devastating amount.
“Throughout the feedback given to the Chair of the Stormont Education Committee there was criticism of the huge proportion of resources consumed by the Department of Education and its administration structures – £4 in every £10 allocated to the education budget does not reach our schools.
“This amount is too large and the minister would be far better trying to reduce these overhead costs and release them to schools and teachers.
There is now an urgent need for Education and Skills Authority (ESA) to become a reality and for local area planning to take place, before any attempt is made to change the budgets of the schools.”