Ireland’s Education Authority ‘cannot cope’ with declining budgets

As reported by the BBC, a lack of funding in Northern Ireland is causing SEND pupils to suffer, while principals are being abused online and receive no protection

According to claims made at a recent NI Affairs Committee hearing, school principals in Northern Ireland are being “hounded, stalked and vilified on social media”, while SEND pupils aren’t receiving the specialist care they require.

This is according to Geri Cameron, principal of the Loughshore Education Centre and representative of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

Where SEND support is concerned, a funding issue is to blame. The Education Authority (EA) has said that it “cannot cope” with the demands on declining budgets.

The NI Affairs Committee plans to hold an enquiry into this issue.

Cameron also said that a strategy for protecting teachers and their wellbeing is sorely needed.

“I can’t imagine any other situation where a school principal could be hounded and stalked and vilified on social media and held up for public ridicule with no consequence,” she said.

“As a trade union we are inundated with principals who are suffering at the hands of all sorts of individuals with very strange motives, but nevertheless they are there.”

“No other profession would sustain it or tolerate it.”

Cameron said that support in Northern Ireland for SEND pupils is “not adequate to meet need.”

“There isn’t a school in Northern Ireland at the moment which isn’t feeling the effects of the challenges of dealing with children and young people who have mental ill-health,” she said.

“There is a generation of children who are suffering at the moment and whose needs are not being adequately met.”

This is not the first time services for SEND children have been criticised – the Northern Ireland Audit Office has been known to do the same. The Education and Training Inspectorate has also claimed that some schools have been forced to pay out for emergency mental health support for pupils.

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More recently, the Education and Training Inspectorate said that many schools were paying for urgent mental health support for pupils.

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