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Commenting on the Westminster Northern Ireland Affairs Committee’s report on education funding, Ms Chris Keates, General Secretary (Acting) of NASUWT - The Teachers’ Union, said:

“The NASUWT welcomes this initiative from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and broadly welcome the findings.

“However, many of the issues identified by the Committee predate the collapse of Stormont and have their origins in decisions taken by the Westminster Government.

“The Committee has recognised that education in Northern Ireland is in crisis and schools urgently need more money to address the growing pressures facing staff, pupils and parents.

“In both written and verbal submissions to the Committee the NASUWT made robust arguments for an above inflation pay increase. This has been recognised in the Report which concludes that teachers in Northern Ireland ‘have seen their wages stagnate at the same time as their counterparts elsewhere in the UK are receiving increases, and wages in the sector are considerably lower than those in the Republic of Ireland’

“This is a shocking state of affairs which needs to be addressed.

“The Committee in looking at the objective evidence has recognised the unfairness to teachers and this should be a wake-up call to politicians in both Westminster and in Northern Ireland that action is needed to right this injustice faced by the  teacher workforce.

“Politicians should also be aware that whilst to some there appears to be an attraction in more financial freedom and flexibility for schools, the evidence is clear that the result is a race to the bottom in teachers’ pay and widespread exploitation of the teacher workforce.

“Freedom and flexibility for schools  is  at the heart of the causes of the  national teacher recruitment and retention crisis in England and the NASUWT will strongly oppose any attempt to take schools in Northern Ireland down that route.”

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT National Official Northern Ireland, said:

“The Committee has made a series of recommendations to address the crisis in education and whilst the NASUWT welcomes some, we do question the wisdom of others.

“In particular, the NASUWT is concerned about proposals for a pilot scheme for Controlled and Maintained schools to be given greater financial flexibility. During the evidence hearing in Westminster it was apparent that some MPs envisage greater ‘financial flexibility’ as a mechanism for suppressing teacher pay.

“There are serious political ramifications in giving the Secretary of State power to implement regulations previously agreed by the Northern Ireland Assembly but there are also practical considerations.

“The NASUWT have grave concerns around the workload ramifications arising from new regulations and are not convinced that giving this power to the Secretary of State would allow for meaningful consultation on the impact of new regulations on teachers.

“Some of the recommendations reflect what is happening already, the Department of Education has begun to review the Common Funding Formula.

"The NASUWT will engage fully with the Department on this review but remains concerned that this review could lead to debate on slicing and reducing the educational cake rather than making it bigger for everyone.”

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