Quality teaching is at the heart of Coleraine, Ballymoney and Moyle’s pupils’ academic success – and that’s official, according to local teachers.
Jacquie White, General Secretary of the Ulster Teachers’ Union and a former teacher at Millburn Primary, Coleraine was speaking in the wake of a new report* revealing that the province has faced the highest school spending cuts per pupil in the UK over the past decade.
“Despite this, however, our pupils again and again out-perform their GB counterparts at GCSE and A-level – which given the dwindling finances can only be down to the quality teaching in schools,” said Jacquie, who is from Coleraine.
“For some time now we have been highlighting the scale to which teachers are filling the breach in terms of resource cuts and now we have proof.
“The continuing top performance of so many pupils here isn’t down to the stretched and disappearing resources in schools. When those are gone, what’s left is the teaching workforce, making up the shortfall on so many levels.
“The danger, however, is that now our teachers are at full stretch and the strain is showing. We’re at breaking point and it cannot go on.
“Parents have been a great support in so many situations too but centralised funding is what is needed if schools are to plan ahead as opposed to desperately trying to eek out growing budget shortfalls term on term.
“Think what our young people could achieve with the quality teaching we are now proven to have, alongside the funding that 21st century schools need if their pupils are to compete on a global stage.
“Our children are our greatest resource. The system cannot afford to short-change them for they represent the future of this country.”
* Northern Ireland has faced the highest school spending cuts per pupil in the UK over the past decade, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), one of the UK’s leading economic research institutes.
Northern Ireland has seen an 11% cut in real-terms school spending per pupil since 2009, new IFS analysis suggests.
That compares to cuts of 8% in England, cuts of 6% in Wales and cuts of 2% in Scotland.