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Education Minister puts more money into schools

12 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, today announced a total of almost £1.8billion recurrent funding for Education for next year.

Out of this amount, schools and Education and Library Boards will receive £1.45billion.

In announcing her first budget for Education, the Minister said:

"This is a record level of funding for schools and Boards and is a clear demonstration of the Executive's commitment to ensure all our children and young people have the opportunity to achieve their full potential through quality education services."

Key points

  • Total recurrent funding will be almost £1.8billion, with the bulk of this - £1.05billion - going directly to schools.
  • This means, an extra £20million directly into our schools next year.
  • In addition, over the next three years there will be:-
  • £12million specifically to help primary school teaching Principals;
  • a further £32million for the foundation stage of the revised curriculum in primary schools;
  • a total of £22million extra for other elements of the revised curriculum and implementation of associated arrangements for pupil assessment;
  • £8million a year to enable Early Years services to be funded, plus a further £8 million over the next three years for service development;
  • £12million for Literacy and Numeracy measures;
  • £25million for implementation of the Special Education Needs and Inclusion Review;
  • £2.5million for Emotional Health and Wellbeing programme, to include the provision of counselling in schools and the development of anti-bullying policies; and
  • £50million to take forward the establishment of the Education and Skills Authority.

In addition to this recurrent funding, £700million is available for capital investment over the next three years, and will enable work over 100 major schools projects, including 8 special schools, to be taken forward.


Recurrent funding for Education services will be more than £1.75billion in 2008-09 and will rise to over £1.95billion in 2010-11. In addition to this, the budget includes nearly £0.7billion for capital investment in Education over the next three years to provide for 100 major schools projects.

The Minister said:

"The budget settlement means that next year alone I can put more than £20 million extra directly into schools compared to the current year. Taking account of falling rolls, this provides an average increase in funding per pupil of more than 3%."

The Minister said that she had listened to the concerns of primary teachers and others during the recent consultation on LMS funding issues and that she recognised the importance of adequate support to ensure our children get the best start to their school years. She said she had responded to those concerns by making provision for an increase in the primary age weighted pupil unit (AWPU) from 1.02 to 1.04 in 2008-09 with a view to increasing this progressively over the budget period to 1.05 in 2009-10 and 1.06 in 2010-11. The budget provides for an average increase in funding per primary pupil in 2008-09 of 4% (£102)

In addition to this, over the next three years, the budget provides almost £12million to help primary school teaching Principals, in recognition of the pressures they face and a further £32million to support primary schools with the delivery of the foundation stage of the revised curriculum.

The Minister said that this Budget was one of opportunity and reform with a focus on getting the best use of resources through more efficient delivery of services. She said that this was a good budget for Education but acknowledged that the overall growth in public expenditure was slower than in recent years and that this had meant that difficult decisions had to be made.

On the Children and Young People package the Minister said that she valued the work that had been taken forward under this programme and confirmed that the £16.4million funding which had been made available in 2007-08 for direct payments to schools' leaders had been mainstreamed and was included within the schools budget allocations. She also confirmed that £8million a year had been made available for Early Years to enable services previously funded under this package to continue, along with provision for school-based counselling and a telephone helpline for children, but said that funding for extended schools would be at a reduced level .

She said that there would always be more needed than it was possible to provide and that this made it even more important to ensure that we get the best possible use out of every penny that has been made available to us.

Other key priorities provided for in the Budget include almost £12million over the next three years specifically for Literacy and Numeracy measures, £8million for development of Early Years services, £32million for the foundation stage of the revised curriculum and a total of £22million for other elements of the revised curriculum and implementation of associated assessment arrangements.

In addition, almost £50million will be allocated over the next 3 years to take forward the Review of Public Administration recommendations for Education through the establishment of the new Education and Skills Authority and a further £25million for the implementation of the Special Educational Needs and Inclusion review.

In announcing the budget the Minister also stressed the importance for support for children and young people to cope with particular difficulties they may face in today's world and said:

"I am making provision for an additional £2.5million over the next three years to make a start on a programme to promote pupils' emotional health and well being in the primary and special education sectors. This programme will include making counselling available to pupils."

The Minister had already indicated that she would make good the reduction in funding for Youth in the Draft Budget and that was confirmed in today's budget announcement, which includes an additional £4.6 million for Youth over the next three years compared to the Draft Budget.

On capital investment she said:

"As a first step to delivering a modern and sustainable schools estate across the North, £0.7billion is available for capital investment over the budget period. This will allow us to progress major building projects at over 100 schools - including eight specifically for children with special educational needs."

A key issue which the Minister said was important to her and to all in Education was ensuring that education services provided equality for all. She said:

"In deciding on the budget priorities, my department held consultation meetings to ensure all equality aspects were fully considered and relevant groups had an opportunity to contribute. I will be writing to the Education and Library Boards and all of the bodies funded from the Education budget to ensure that their budget allocations are also subject to the full rigours of the Equality Impact Assessment process. In addition, I will be writing to ELBs and the other bodies to highlight their duty to encourage and facilitate Irish-medium and integrated education."

In conclusion, the Minister said this would be a challenging and exciting year for all those involved in delivering education services and that she looked forward to working with Education partners and others to meet that challenge to ensure that we have a world class education service.



The amount allocated in 2008-09 to schools' delegated budgets under the Local Management of Schools (LMS) arrangements is £1,050million, compared to £1,029.6 in 2007-08.

For maintained and controlled schools, this funding will be allocated via the relevant Education and Library Board, which must ensure that it is passed on in full to the Boards of Governors of schools in its area. Grant maintained integrated and voluntary grammar schools will receive their share of this funding directly from the Department of Education.

Individual schools' shares have been calculated using the LMS common funding formula. Funding in 2008-09 reflects a change in the Primary AWPU weighting from 1.02 to 1.04 approved by the Minister following recent consultations with schools. The budgets for individual schools will be formally confirmed with them in the next couple of weeks by the relevant funding authority but, from later today, all schools can access their indicative budgets via the DE website ( Those indicative budgets reflect information on pupil numbers gathered directly from schools in the October 2007 census.
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