East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has said that recent stories of a budget crisis at the Education Authority (EA), prove the need for ‘a full-scale review’ of how education is delivered in Northern Ireland.
Mr Dickson was speaking after the BBC revealed the EA considered removing all ‘Lollipop’ Men and Women from school crossings to cut costs, among other measures.
Mr Dickson commented: “'Lollipop' Men and Women invoke both nostalgia and pride in our community, as well as help keep children safe. The EA were right in their assessment that completely cutting out such a service would be ‘unpalatable’ and unacceptable. As too would be removing uniform allowances to the most deprived children in our society.
“It is well known that the EA faces serious budgetary pressures; with recent estimates suggesting a shortfall of about £58 million for the forthcoming year.
"Indeed, more and more, school principals from across East Antrim are telling me they simply cannot run their facilities on the money budgeted by the Authority - so something has to give.
"Alliance has previously raised the need for a full-scale review of our entire education system. We have had numerous reports and recommendations, but they have not been adequately implemented.
"Ultimately however, without a functioning Executive and Assembly, we cannot even begin to truly tackle problems and reform our education system - so let’s stop the squabbling and get back to work!”