Northern Ireland

School subject fund cut by almost half

Student writing, generic
Image caption It is understood the cut is "due to pressures on the education budget"

Money from the Department of Education (DE) which enabled schools to offer more subjects to pupils is to be almost halved.

Schools who work together to deliver the "entitlement framework" have been told that their funding to deliver it is to be reduced by 43.5%.

The cut is a cash reduction of £2m from the 2016/17 budget of £4.9m.

A letter from the DE to principals said the cut is "due to pressures on the education budget".

Under the entitlement framework, post-primary schools have to offer pupils a choice of at least 21 subjects at GCSE and A-Level.

As a limited number of schools are able to offer 21 different subjects on their own, many work together to share teachers and classes.

For instance, in east Belfast, Ashfield Boys and Girls High Schools, and Bloomfield Collegiate and Strathearn grammar schools offer some A-Level subjects jointly.

While in Armagh, for example, pupils from St Joseph's High School in Crossmaglen take some A-Level Courses with pupils in St Paul's High School in Bessbrook.

Many other schools across Northern Ireland have similar arrangements and get extra money from DE to pay for things like additional teaching and travel costs.

Other schools collaborate with their local Further Education (FE) college so pupils can take classes there in subjects not offered in school.

One principal told the BBC that the cut would affect many pupils at their school.

"We will be particularly hard hit as we have a considerable number of collaborative courses with our local FE college," they said.

"As always it could be many of the most vulnerable learners who suffer as many of these courses support the academic achievement of students from a wide range of backgrounds."

The DE circular also said the department would soon advise schools how the overall cut would affect their specific funding under the programme.

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