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Funding crisis could plunge new school into darkness - Warning

Thursday, 8 February 2018

AS the funding crisis for schools deepens, an Omagh principal has starkly warned he may have no light or heat in his brand new state-of-the-art 8.2 million school shortly.

Jonathan Gray, of Arvalee School and Resource Centre, has been told there were no guarantees that there would be adequate funds to service his new buildings.

Indeed his voice is one of a chorus of concerns sounded this week as several local school principals have expressed frustration after the Education Authority (EA) refused to approve school budgets.

So much concern is there around school budgets that the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has organised a public meeting tomorrow afternoon (Thursday), at 4pm in Omagh to address the crisis.

Mr Gray's 8.2 million faciity on the Gortin Road in Omagh, which will host tomorrow's meeting, was the first school to be completed on Strule Shared Education Campus when it officially opened its doors in September 2016.

It was promoted as a significant resource to ensure that the children in the Omagh district with severe and moderate learning difficulties had access to a state-of-the-art facility to support their learning, now however its potential was being questioned.

Mr Gray, who is also a National Association of Head Teachers, NAHT (NI) executive member, warned that this year there were 3,000 additional children in nursery and primary schools with no funding; despite announcements of additional funding by the Secretary of State and others, schools have received no additional funds.

 

"Schools in Northern Ireland are being forced to cut staff, introduce larger class sizes, reduce support for Special Educational Needs and put further pressure on parents to subsidise resources.

"Whilst Arvalee school has a beautiful new building, the EA cannot guarantee that there will be adequate funds to heat and light it. Our schools must be properly funded, so every child can access an education that will enable them to realise their full potential," he said.

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