O’Dowd guilty of ‘financial disregard’ says Diver

SDLP election candidate, Gerard Diver.
SDLP election candidate, Gerard Diver.

School pupils will pay for the mistakes of Education Minister, John O’Dowd, according to SDLP election candidate, Gerard Diver.

Mr. Diver accused Mr. O’Dowd’s department of “financial disregard” and said a school principal he spoke with believes there will be redundancies in the not too distant future.

“That the department has left schools to pick up increased National Insurance contributions for staff, when this was previously the responsibility of the department shows a level of financial disregard which is hard to fathom.

“School pupils now seem set to pay the price for this lack of financial preparation and flawed accountancy.”

Mr. Diver added: “It’s right that school leaders have taken a stand against the onslaught of austerity that they have been strong-armed into. School budgets have effectively been reduced by some 6 per cent. The outworking of this is that many teachers are wondering if they have jobs to return to in September, while school governors are forced to discuss shorter school days, abandoning some traditional subjects and increasing class sizes.

“One principal I spoke with fears ‘substantial redundancies of both teaching and non-teaching staff.’ That decisions are required before the end of the current academic year shows just how these decisions have been forced upon principals.”

“This is not the way to build for pupils’ future, or ours.

“The Minister has overseen successive crisis, in fact many would say he has created more than he resolved.

“It is simply not good enough and another reason there must be a change come May 5,” concluded Mr. Diver.