Northern Ireland

Panel: Too much spent on keeping small schools open

Education Minister John O'Dowd
Image caption Education Minister John O'Dowd appointed the review panel

Education Minister John O'Dowd has been told that he is spending too much on keeping small schools open and not enough on disadvantaged pupils.

An independent panel has recommended a new funding policy and cash incentives to encourage smaller schools to merge.

Mr O'Dowd appointed the review panel, headed by Sir Robert Salisbury, last June.

The panel examined the Common Funding Schemes and found that it was outdated, too complicated and failing pupils.

Simpler formula

The gap between the best and worst performing schools was wider than other parts of the UK.

The panel has recommended a simpler funding formula and financial incentives so that smaller schools are better off if they join with schools nearby.

The panel is also recommending increasing significantly the amount of money going to pupils from socially disadvantaged background, including children in foster care.

Sir Robert Salisbury said he found the current scheme was serving the needs of the institutions - keeping open relatively expensive schools.

The review found that on average the cost of educating a child in a small primary school could be three times higher than a larger school.

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