Schools may swing axe as spending cuts hit

Dozens of teachers and support staff working in Derry schools could be made redundant as massive cuts to public spending come into effect.

The ‘Journal’ understands staff at one Derry post primary school were informed this week that seven positions - three teaching roles and four ancillary staff positions - are under threat of redundancy as the school tries to balance the books.

It is further understood that head teachers across Derry are being left with no option but to assess staffing levels amid swingeing school budget cuts.

Eugene O’Neill of the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools says schools in Derry - and across the North - are facing a testing time financially.

“This is one of the most difficult financial times that schools have had to operate in.

“They are facing both massive cuts to the public spend as well as changing demographics which have always dictated school’s budgets.”

Mr O’Neill says each school is faced with a cut of around £100 per pupil.

He says schools are currently finalising their budget plans but confirms that less money makes staff redundancies a very real prospect.

And he says it is hoped redundancies will be made on a voluntary rather than a forced basis.

“The vast majority of schools, not just CCMS schools, will be affected,” he says.

“We have a fairly good track record of managing redundancies and redeploying teachers.

“Any redundancies will be managed sensitively.”

Details of a new funding package for education agreed by the Stormont Executive emerged last night.

Around £120million will be allocated to schools over the next three years.

Mr O’Neill says that may offer a degree of hope to schools.

“This may go some way in offsetting the scale of the cuts and allow schools to revisit their budget plans,” he says.