The £105m education shortfall – behind the headlines…

The head honcho of the Department of Education says there is a rather big hole in the education budget, from the BBC: Derek Baker, the department’s permanent secretary and the man in charge of the department in the absence of a minister. Mr Baker said that the department had £24m less in cash than last year, but rising costs meant pressures of £105m. He said the funding pressure was mainly due to rising pay, special educational needs and maintenance costs. Mr … Read more

Why are NI schools sitting on £50 million of unspent money?

Great story from Simon Doyle over at the Irish News. To quote: It shows that of the north’s 814 primary schools, 617 ended 2014/15 with a budget surplus. Christ the Redeemer in Lagmore, which received an annual budget of £1.8 million, ended the year more than £375,000 in the black. St Patrick’s PS in Armagh, which had a budget of £1.2m, ended with a surplus of about £342,000. Grange Park PS in Bangor’s surplus was £310,000 while Holy Trinity PS … Read more

niedcamp: Teachers Taking the Initiative

It is now widely accepted that reform of public services must continue over the coming years as both central and local government try to offer the same level of service with less money to spend. As a result we can expect further decentralisation, eradication or contracting out of some back-office functions and ever-closer relationships with partners in the private and voluntary sector. The education sector here in Northern Ireland has not been spared. The Education Authority, established to provide a … Read more

Education – Exam culture put to the Test

I taught English and Drama in local schools from 1979 to 2005. I have great memories of the classroom and enjoy seeing some of my former students go on to flourish in the wider world. In some ways education got rather better during my years as a teacher. There was more accountability, and I guess that that probably helped raise standards amongst some teachers who lacked drive and competence. And new subjects such as A level Theatre Studies, which I … Read more

Meanwhile over at what really matters…

Well below the big headline on the latest torrid twist with Gerry Adams’ grim mugshot  at the top, lurks the unassuming headline “NI trailing in English and Maths”. This is the local version of the big OECD report on educational performance in England and NI which concludes that today’s kids are less well educated in the basics than their grandparents (people like me). And yes there’s a paradox here.” Northern Ireland is ‘best in Europe’ at primary maths. But that … Read more

Schools Common Funding Scheme Review: “with close monitoring and intervention when outcomes are not satisfactory…”

The BBC’s Martina Purdy has a short report on the recommendations of the Independent Review of the Common Funding Scheme, as appointed by the NI Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd, on 12 June 2012.  The ministerial welcome for the publication of the review is here.  From the BBC report The panel examined the Common Funding Schemes and found that it was outdated, too complicated and failing pupils. The gap between the best and worst performing schools was wider than other … Read more

#AssetTransfer: Investing in schools in order to help meet community demands…

One of the issues in Belfast is the crumbling leisure infrastructure. The (relatively speaking) cvast number of centres were built in thick of the troubles in the late seventies and early eighties as a large scale capital investment programme. They were located in specific areas in order to take account of the physical separation of working class urban communities. At the time it was not reasonable to expect individuals from the lower Shankill to visit the Falls. Some are already … Read more

“all schools in the Catholic sector should move to an alternative form of transfer as soon as possible and by no later than 2012…”

Six years in the writing, the Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education (NICCE) has published its Post-Primary Review Strategic Regional Report. It’s a mixture of proposals of limited school closures, amalgamations… and wishful thinking. As the BBC reports, Catholic Church representatives have been focusing on one issue in particular. Cardinal Brady was speaking at St Mary’s College in Belfast when he criticised continuing academic selection by schools. “It is totally unacceptable that some Catholic schools are, in effect, becoming all ability … Read more

“We believe this is a crude attempt to circumvent the proper and long-established channels of financial accountability within education”

The BBC notes the declared intention of the board of governors of  Catholic grammar school Loreto College to end academic selection from 2012 or 2013 – you can check the most recent figures on Loreto’s academically selected intake here.  By the way, how is that review going?  And the BBC report quotes the Catholic Principals’ Association chair Seamus Quinn CPA chair Seamus Quinn said: “Loreto has followed the moral and spiritual guidance provided by the Commission for Catholic Education (NICCE). “Their decision is an important step … Read more

Religion in schools. More than just Catholics

Peter Robinson’s comments on education have opened up a discussion that is solely focusing on the role of the Catholic Maintained Sector. While the discussion is worthwhile, having it without addressing other elements of religious involvement across education is dealing with less than half of the issue. As noted in Tony Macaulay’s report on Churches and Christian Ethos in Integrated Schools: The assumption that integrated schools would solve the sectarianism problem in Northern Ireland was a false one, a speaker … Read more

“But there is no guarantee that any will be built…”

The Northern Ireland Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitriona Ruane, refused to tell the Assembly the details of the outcome of her department’s review of the schools capital build programme last week.  The BBC reports today that the department has now released the list of the schools whose plans comply fully with departmental policy (34), those who might, with further work, comply with policy (24), and those whose plans do not comply (8). But as the BBC report also notes A total of … Read more

“we are over committed to over spend and these projects will be delayed”

Unlike last week, the Northern Ireland Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitriona Ruane, was on time today to make a statement to the Assembly on the review of her department’s programme of capital building schemes.  But, as the BBC reports, the statement was somewhat lacking in detail The minister told the assembly that she has made decisions on which of the 69 schools are to get the go ahead for new buildings. She said most have been approved, some have been … Read more