Primaries to lose Spanish funding

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Funding for language provision in primary schools will be withdrawn at the end of the month, the Department of Education has confirmed.

Moyle Primary in Larne and Kilcoan Primary, Islandmagee, both offer Spanish.

Spanish is included on the timetable at Moyle Primary for pupils in primary one to primary three for three hours each week with lessons provided by a tutor whose services will be no longer be funded after this week.

Principal Peter Garrett indicated that Spanish provision will be made possible in the future through tuition by members of staff.

Mr. Garrett expressed regret at the loss of the tutor and thanked him for his services during the past few years.

He went on to say: “This is probably one of the most financially challenging eras I have experienced with regard to cuts.”

He suggested that the Department of Education is trying to “cut areas which are considered a luxury”.

He noted that the Department of Education had carried out a consultation before Christmas which highlighted areas in which there would be cuts.

A spokesman for the Department of Education said: “The primary languages programme will discontinue from the end of March 2015. There is currently no further funding available.

“The department has no plans to introduce a new programme run on the basis of peripatetic tutors to provide Irish or any other language to Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 pupils.

“The department considers that building capacity among class teachers is the most sustainable approach to primary language provision.

“Consistent with this renewed focus on class-teacher delivery, the department has given support to CCEA to bring forward work on resources to support the delivery of Irish at primary level in English-medium schools.

“While the central funding from the department will end, individual schools may wish to continue with the programme funded from their own school funding.”

Meanwhile Roy Beggs MLA has asked the Junior Minister about the importance of education in allowing young people to move out of poverty.

Speaking in the Assembly, on Monday, Mr. Beggs asked the minister to explain why early years funding has been reduced for a number of organisations in his constituency, including Kids Korner in the Antiville area, where he claimed, there are some of the “highest levels of child poverty” in Northern Ireland.