Public meeting to be held about school budgets

Some of the attendance at a public meeting held in Holy Family Primary School, on Wednesday afternoon last, to discuss the school budget crisis. DER4518GS024
Some of the attendance at a public meeting held in Holy Family Primary School, on Wednesday afternoon last, to discuss the school budget crisis. DER4518GS024

A group of local parents who are concerned about cuts to the education budget are to host a public meeting next week.

The meeting has been organised by ‘Parents Against School Cuts Derry.’

The group was formed in response to a letter sent home with pupils last year, which was signed by the principals of 30 primary schools in the area.

This letter warned of a ‘crisis in education’ and of cuts to staff numbers, increased class sizes and longer waiting lists for special educational needs services.

A second letter was sent home to parents this week by the Derry Primary Principals’ Group.

It informed parents that despite a number of meetings and an online petition, no progress had been made in relation to school budgets and the ‘financial situation has only got worse.’

The letter also advised parents that ‘none of the £39.5 million that came to education, as part of the end of year monitoring round, reached frontline services in schools’.

“Just recently it has been announced by the Department of Education (NI) that school budgets for the 2019-20 school year will be less in real terms than the budget for 2018-19,” it continued.

The letter also suggested a number of questions that could be asked of local election candidates about ‘their intentions to address this grave financial situation’.

Brian Boyle, of Parents Against School Cuts Derry, has four children going through the primary school system at present and he can see that the schools are ‘getting completely underfunded.’

“When the first letter was sent home it was a shock. Our children are being completely and utterly failed and we have to do something about it.

“Teachers are doing two and three different jobs, sometimes having to spend time out of the classroom, school books are not print outs on pages and if you do get a book answers can’t be written into them.

“Now principals are warning us that despite all their actions there has been no progress made and the financial situation has gotten worse,” he said.

The parents’ group has been calling for a public meeting for some time and have also secured a meeting with the Permanent secretary for education Derek Baker, which is due to take place in May.

The public meeting will be held on Thursday, March 28 at 7pm in the Guildhall.

Brian urged parents to come along and have their voice heard.

“We hope that everyone will attend because we need to send a message to those in power that we will not allow our children’s future to be thrown away.

“It is not enough that our schools are just surviving, they need to flourish to give our children the best chance in life.

“Over half of the schools in the north will be in the red by next year and this will mean after school clubs getting cut, assistants losing their jobs and even a reduction in the amount of teachers.

“We cannot allow this to happen, it’s time to fight for our children’s future”

Brian also called for teacher, who would like to address the public meeting about their experiences to get in touch with the group via the Facebook or email parentsagainstschoolcutsderry@gmail.com