Northern Ireland

£72m reduction in education resource budget in Northern Ireland

Education committee
Image caption The assembly's education committee met on Wednesday

The Department of Education is facing a cash reduction of £72m in its resource budget in 2016/17.

A departmental official told the education committee that amounted to a percentage cut of 3.8%.

The department's director of finance, Trevor Connolly, told the committee the 2016/17 budget would be "challenging", if better than previously anticipated.

He said the full impact of the budget cut on schools' individual budgets would not be clear until early March.

However, the department's capital budget - to build new schools and school facilities - is increasing by £46m in 2016/17, a rise of 32%.

Committee members also questioned departmental officials on the Investing in the Teaching Workforce Scheme which aims to replace up to 500 older teaching staff with newly qualified teachers.

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Media captionDepartment of Education officials Trevor Connolly and La'Verne Montgomery appeared before the committee

A number queried why the department had decided to limit the scheme to teachers who had graduated within the past three years.

The department's director of education workforce development, La'Verne Montgomery, admitted that "there may well be further issues that we have to address" and the scheme may be adjusted.

"We continue to explore the flexibility within the scheme," she said.

She also said that there were currently fewer than 400 full-time teachers younger than 25 in Northern Ireland.

Ms Montgomery said that the department expected up to 300 teachers to leave under the wider civil service voluntary redundancy scheme in 2016/17.

'Very careful consideration'

Earlier, Education Minister John O'Dowd said people considering a career in teaching in Northern Ireland should not expect a full-time job after their training.

Mr O'Dowd said those wanting to enter the profession should give "very, very careful consideration" to their choice.

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Image caption John O'Down said "no-one should enter the profession in the belief" they would find work

He was speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme.

He said prospective teachers should "be aware you may not be able to achieve a post within teaching in this society."

Employment

"I can't give careers advice but I would give this advice: anybody considering taking up a career in teaching should think very, very carefully about it," he said.

"It's a very, very rewarding job, and I don't mean that in the financial terms, but in terms of encouraging and nurturing our young people through.

"But no-one should enter the teaching profession in the belief that they're going to come the other side and obtain full-time employment.

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