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News: Northern Ireland report highlights the costs of cuts to children and young people

The authors of the report paint a devastating picture of how the cuts will disproportionately impact the most disadvantaged children and young people.

The report explored ‘The Consequences of the cuts to education for Children and Young People in Northern Ireland‘.

The authors argues that the removal of schemes such as those to alleviate holiday hunger, period poverty and digital inequalities, as well as to initiatives to support children’s mental wellbeing and reduce the pandemic learning gap, undermines the realisation of the recommendations made in ‘A Fair Start’.

The situation for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) is particularly severe.

Dr John McMullen, Educational Psychologist and contributor to the report said:

In the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive, the Secretary of State delivered a punitive budget to the Department of Education, resulting in a range of cuts at a time when support is needed more than ever. The cuts will further exacerbate educational disadvantage and disproportionately affect the most vulnerable.

The rapid review was quickly pulled together by academics from four institutions, and has been broadly welcomed by the Department of Education and the Education Authority. The report draws attention to the crisis in SEN support here, highlighting that Statements of SEN have increased by 24% in the past 5 years, while the number of educational psychology staff (FTEs) has fallen by 26% over the same period

The cuts the researchers are aware of are:

  • An end to Free School Meal Payments during holiday periods (‘Holiday Hunger Scheme’) which provided 96,300 children with £27 a fortnight.
  • An end to Happy Healthy Minds
  • An end to Engage
  • An end to the Digital Devices scheme
  • An end to the Baby Book scheme
  • A pause on capital development
  • 28 New school projects paused
  • A 40% cut to Free Period Products budget
  • A 50% cut to the Shared Education budget
  • A reduction in Nurture funding from £70 million to £62 million
  • An end to schools coaching programme run by Irish Football Association (IFA) and Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)
  • An end to funding available to Young Enterprise NI
  • A pause on a cashless scheme for schools
  • A depletion of funding available to Extended Schools
  • A significant shortfall in resource for pupils with SEN
  • A pause on the recruitment of school crossing patrols

Content for this news piece was taken from the press release accompanying the publication of the report

Read the report

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