Hunter: Excuses won’t cut it for integrated schools

education cara hunter matthew o'toole

SDLP Opposition Education Spokesperson Cara Hunter has said that excuses won’t comfort schools that have lost out on key funding.

Ten schools across the North have lost capital funding for new buildings that was ring-fenced as part of the Fresh Start agreement.

Ms Hunter pressed Education Minister Paul Givan for more information in the Assembly on Monday.

East Derry MLA Ms Hunter said:

“School leaders, teachers and impacted parents across all of the affected schools have been crying out for answers since this story first emerged late on Friday. In many cases preparatory work for these new school buildings is already well underway and these schools cannot believe that the rug has been pulled out from under them after being assured that this funding was in place for a number of years.

“Today I asked the Education Minister directly what assurances he could provide to schools and he could not give me an answer. He was also unable to offer any guidance around how the completion dates for these schools will be impacted or even if he would be willing to meet the principals of these schools. Given the huge upheaval and uncertainty this has caused these answers from the Minister simply aren’t good enough and the SDLP Opposition will keep pressing for clarity.”

SDLP Leader of the Opposition Matthew O’Toole MLA said:

“As someone whose child attends one of the schools impacted I can understand how parents and the entire school community are feeling about this loss of funding. These schools do fantastic work, I see it every day and if they’re going to grow and offer our children the best education possible then they need new premises, as identified a decade ago.

“This situation raises further questions about what exactly the Executive signed up to in the deal to restore power-sharing. While the UK Government should do the right thing and restore funding to these schools, the Executive cannot side-step every challenge that comes their way by passing the buck. The Executive parties have a duty to reveal what exactly they knew about the removal of this funding. Either they were aware of it and pressed on anyway, or took this government, who have proven repeatedly they can’t be trusted, at their word. Regardless, it’s these schools and their pupils that will lose out if this funding is not restored and these works carried out as promised.”

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