£1.5 million budget cuts for Derry schools

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Schools right across Derry are in line for drastic cuts to their funding for the coming academic year, the Journal can reveal.

Department of Education figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that resource funding for schools across the Foyle Parliamentary Constituency will be slashed by over £1.5 million in the coming year.

Resource funding relates to all spending inside schools including heating and lighting for example.

The cuts affect both primary and secondary schools. Of the 63 schools listed in the Foyle constituency, 26, or around 40 per cent of them will experience cuts.

The worst affected secondary school is Lisneal College in the Waterside who will have £330,671 docked from their resource budget.

In relation to primary schools in the city the worst hit is the Model Primary School who will be cut by £86,872.

SDLP Employment and Learning Spokesman, Pat Ramsey MLA, told the Journal: “These figures show the current level of uncertainty in our education system caused by Sinn Fein and the DUP signing up to Tory government budgets. Every departmental budget has been slashed as they cannot find a way out of the Welfare Reform debacle.

“My fear is that things will get worse before they get better.

“If school budgets are restricted, doesn’t this place incrementally increasing pressure on those schools which experience falling pupil numbers?

“While it it is only right that resources are reflective of changing student numbers we should not be limiting the future planning capabilities of school principals, who are already unsure of the amount of staff they will have in September.

“The voluntary exit scheme, which saw the Department send letters to all non-teaching staff offering redundancy packages ‘should funds become available’, only adds to the level of uncertainty.”

DUP Alderman on Derry City and Strabane District Council, Drew Thompson also expressed concerns about the impending monetary cuts.

“This is a massive reduction. £300,000 for Lisneal College alone means it may have serious implications for the only Protestant secondary school in the city.

“I have major concerns aboiut this and will be contacting the Education Committee at Stormont.

“It will be interesting to see how they came to these figures.

“We are ll pushing for university expansion at Magee, but now our schools are being targeted.

“There is already a major difficulty with the levels of educational attainment for Protestant boys and this will not help,” he said.

Of the 26 schools affected across the city, eight are within the secondary sector and 18 at primary school level-with three nursery units included in this.

In the secondary school sector St Joseph’s Boys School in Creggan stands to loose £126,972: St Cecilia’s £44.054: St Bridgid’s Carnhill £125,138,:Oakgove College £40,923; Foyle College £79,817 and Thornhill College £10,770.

The three affected nurseries are Academy Nursey who will loose £2,707, Carnhill Nursery £7,566 and Trench Road Nursery £6,019. Overall, the total cuts to the resource budgets for schools across the Foyle constituency amount to £1,560, 971.

The primary schools facing cuts are the Model Primary which will loose £86,872: Culmore £22,335: Eglinton £11,737, Greenhaw £9,497: Ballougry £24,869: Nazareth house £30,4852: Holy Child £32,429: Glendermott £22,985: Craigbrack £15,718: Broadbridge £25,051: Mullabuoy £30,582: Steelstown £9,229: St Eithne’s £28,033 and Oakgrove Integrated £29,163