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Sinn Féin step up campaign against cuts to Education Budget

31 August, 2005


Sinn Féin is stepping up its campaign against cuts to the Education Budget and the demand for 'A Real Budget To Support Education & Learning' with a series of protests tomorrow, September 1st, and throughout the week to mark the start of the new school term.

Planed Protests

  • Petition outside local schools & distribution of 'Real Budget' stickers 8.45am, September 1st and over several days.
  • Protest on steps of Stormont Buildings, Thursday September 1st at 10.30am, and hand in letter of protest to British direct rule Education Minister Angela Smith at Castle Buildings. The protest will be joined by some of those affected by the loss of school transport, Class Room Assistants and Teachers
  • Mayors of Magherafelt and Moyle District Council, Cllr Sean Kerr and Cllr Oliver McMullan, will join Sinn Fein Education Spokesperson to meet Children's Commissioner Nigel Williams at 12.30pm, September 1st at Millennium House, Great Victoria Street, to discuss the adverse impact the Education Budget cuts have had on services to children and young people
  • Poleglass Roundabout Stewartstown Road - September 1st 3.30pm-4.30pm 'We Demand A Real Budget To Support Education & Learning'

Speaking ahead of the day of protest Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson MLA said:

"Sinn Fein is stepping up its campaign against the cuts to the Education Budget, which saw this year's budget cut by £31m with further cuts of £33m scheduled for next year, and the demand for a real budget to support education and learning. It is estimated that the total loss of spend to educational provision could be as much as £170m over three years as the cost of enforced redundancies adds up.

"The huge reduction in educational spending is starting to have an impact. Children at St Frances School in Loughbrickland will be expected to walk to school; others from deprived urban areas like Poleglass have lost their music provision. Class room assistants supporting Special Needs are leaving because they have not been offered sufficient hours to make a living while classes in schools elsewhere are amalgamating as teachers loose their jobs and over 500 Ethnic Children will have no teachers at all.

"We are sending a message to the new Minister that while the initial cash injection was welcome it was merely a third of this year's shortfall and it would appear that even this has strings attached.

"The Minister and the British Government need to get real with a budget that supports education and learning addressing the historic under funding and tackling the appalling rates of educational underachievement."

Michael Ferguson will join local protests at 8.45am and at Poleglass Roundabout between 3.30-4.30pm in his own constituency, where cuts to the Education budget that have already reduced the educational opportunities for children in the areas of Poleglass, Twinbrook and Lagmore.

He will be joined by parents whose children attend schools like St Kieran's in Poleglass which has lost 2 Teachers, 3 Temporary Teachers, 5 Classroom Assistants, 2 Supervisory Staff, 1 cleaner and its music tuition and St Marks in Twinbrook that has lost 7 Classroom Assistants, 1 Secretary, 1 Part-time Care Taker.

The area's only Secondary school St Colm's High in Twinbrook has had a 60% cut to Youth Services and no money to repair a leaking roof while a total of 78 Patrol Crossings have been cancelled throughout the SEELB area. The Stewartstown Road Patrol Crossing which serviced four schools in Twinbrook and one in Lagmore that has been lost with a saving of £468.

Family Literacy Centres at Glenwood and St Teresa's Primary Schools as well as the Glenwood Reading Centre will leave 84 children from 24 schools without support and result in redundancy offers to 3 Staff at a time when Ruth Kelly is investing in extra literacy tuition for 44,000 children and £640 million has been made available for Extended School projects in England and Wales.

Commenting upon the protest at the Poleglass Roundabout on the Stewartstown Road Michael Ferguson said,

"The areas of Poleglass, Twinbrook and Lagmore like many are characterised by multiple deprivation. Evidence shows that educational underachievement and poverty are linked yet in areas like these poverty and underachievement are being compounded by cuts to the education resources for their schools. This means that what little educational quality of life is available to them in school is now been whittled away and their life chances with it.

"We must defend the educational entitlement of our children and our campaign is about fighting for a real budget to support education and learning. The cuts are a consequence of Direct Rule"

Commenting on the meeting with Nigel Williams Cllr Ferguson said:

"We are meeting with the Commissioner for Children & Young People to discuss how best we can work together to address the adverse impact of the cuts to educational provision. Able-bodied and Disabled children, many children with special educational needs as well as ethnic children and teenagers have had their educational provision reduced and this can reduce their life chances.

"We as a Party want to explore every possible opportunity, meet with all concerned and campaign collectively with any organisation, agency, or interest group in order to secure a real budget that will guarantee that all of our children and young people are able to achieve their human potential." ENDS

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