Pupils’ voices will be heard on funding issue

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A former Larne principal has welcomed the chance for local pupils’ input to possible changes within the Common Funding Policy for schools.

Audrey Stewart, formerly head of Olderfleet Primary now an officer with Northern Ireland’s biggest locally-based teaching union, was speaking in the wake of Education Minister John O’Dowd’s call for students to voice their aspirations on how schools should be funded in future.

“We believe this shows how seriously the Minister is taking this issue – and deservedly so as it is one which has exercised the educational sector for many years,” said Mrs Stewart, of the Ulster Teachers’ Union, of which she is also a Past President.

“The current system is an anachronism in today’s fast-paced, globalised marketplace. Children in Northern Ireland schools must be educated in a system which can keep pace with the best in the world if the economy is to have any chance of recovery.

“There is a growing body of evidence for the importance of investment in the initial years of education. The Minister himself has embraced this in his investment in early years. Children develop most quickly in their formative years. Therefore, it is crucial that they gain a firm foundation in literacy, numeracy and academic skills if they are to maximise their career potential in future years.

“Primary schools then need to be funded on a par with their secondary counterparts to ensure children get the best possible start in this increasingly competitive economic climate.”