Northern Ireland

NI schools told they 'won't be allowed to overspend'

Classroom Image copyright SolStock
Image caption Schools will not allowed to "spend more than they receive"

School principals and governors must make "difficult decisions required to allow them to live within their budgets".

The warning comes in a letter from the finance director at the Department of Education (DE), Gary Fair.

Mr Fair said that schools were not allowed to "spend more than they receive."

He also warned that there were likely to be cuts to educational schemes for disadvantaged children.

In April, more than 40 head teachers in greater Belfast said they would refuse to implement more cuts to their budgets.

They said they would not take measures like laying off staff to save money, even if it pushed them into the red.

'Impact on schools'

That was followed by a letter from 140 principals demanding an increase in school budgets.

In his letter, Mr Fair said that DE was facing major funding pressures.

He said the department: "is anticipating having to make spending reductions across a wide range of areas in order to live within its expected final budget allocation for 2017/18.

"Some other funding streams that also directly impact on schools, such as the Extended Schools and Entitlement Framework funding will unfortunately be affected."

The extended schools scheme gives schools in relatively disadvantaged areas some extra money.

They use this to provide things like breakfast and homework clubs, summer schemes and parenting support.

As a result, many schools will be unable to continue providing all of those extra services.

Other schools got some additional money to enable them to deliver joint classes to pupils in some subjects as part of the entitlement framework.

This is not the first time that Mr Fair has written to schools warning them about the education budget.

He had previously written to schools that they would need to make "difficult decisions" in 2017/18.

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