Northern Ireland

Schools need more money, says Peter Weir

Northern Ireland Education Minister Peter Weir
Image caption Peter Weir said there would have to be "redundancies and savings" in the education sector

NI schools need an extra £240m over the next three years just to maintain spending at 2015/16 levels, Education Minister Peter Weir has said.

He told a Stormont education committee hearing that schools faced "a very difficult situation".

There would have to be "redundancies and savings" in the sector, he added.

"Efficiencies in and of themselves will not be enough to avoid the sort of pain that will be there if there is no new money at all," he warned.

'Scandalous' absence

The overall education budget in Northern Ireland is around £2bn per year, of which around £1.1bn goes directly to schools.

The number of pupils a school has is the biggest factor in the amount of funding it receives from the Department of Education each year.

About 80% of each school's annual budget is spent on staff salaries.

The committee also heard that consultation on a review of the Education Authority's (EA) plans to cut hours for pupils at special school nurseries would be delayed due to the forthcoming election.

The committee's vice-chairman, Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle, said that raised "serious concerns" about whether any new arrangements could be implemented by the start of the new school year in September.

A number of members of the committee expressed their disappointment that representatives from the authority had declined to appear before the committee in its final hearing of the current assembly term.

Mr Lyttle said their absence was "extremely regrettable", while DUP MLA Lord Morrow said it was "scandalous".

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