Cash injection to save jobs in Larne schools

LARNE principals have welcomed the Government’s decision to provide a major funding boost for schools that will avoid the need for hundreds of job losses.

Last week, the Larne Times reported that local schools were facing teacher redundancies as a result of multi-million pound cuts to the school budget.

But the Stormont Executive has since announced that an extra £120m of funding will be going into the schools budget over the coming three years, helping to plug the massive shortfall the Department of Education has been forced to deal with.

And while Larne Grammar School principal John Wilson said the cash windfall would relieve a lot of pressure in the short term, he warned that it would not be enough to completely erase the financial difficulties schools are facing.

“This extra £120m will certainly have a big impact on the budget deficit and will save many jobs in schools across Northern Ireland, which is undoubtedly good news,” he added.

“However, schools are still facing a substantial reduction in funding over the next few years. That, coupled with rising costs, means schools will have to contend with significant financial pressures in coming years.”

Mr Wilson also said it was “utterly deplorable” that teaching staff had spent months with the threat of job losses hanging over their heads.

“Teachers have been extremely anxious for some time now about the effects the budget cuts were going to have, and while they have now been given a reprieve, it came very late in the day. Some schools will have already informed staff that they are to be made redundant and I feel sorry for these people, as they will have gone through a lot of stress and mental anguish as a result.”

Larne High School principal John Armstrong - who last week predicted that he would be forced to axe at least half-a-dozen teachers due to planned budget cuts - said he was “very pleased” with the Government’s decision.

“There has been strong lobbying from schools against the cuts to our budget and it looks like it has paid off. This funding boost will avoid the need for teacher redundancies and other drastic reductions at schools across Northern Ireland.

“I suppose one positive thing that came out of this whole situation was that it made schools think more strategically about how they were spending their money. There are still rough economic waters ahead and schools will have no choice but to tighten their belts if they want to stay afloat,” Mr Armstrong added.