Bailey: Additional school places no substitute for education reform

November 24, 2021 2 min read

Bailey: Additional school places no substitute for education reform

Responding to the announcement of 234 new school places in Northern Ireland’s schools for next year, Clare Bailey MLA has said that it’s no substitute for fixing our underfunded and segregated education system.

The Green Party MLA said: “I’m glad to see that there will be some additional school places starting next year in Belfast, Derry and Bangor. This will hopefully ensure that more pupils will be able to attend their preferred schools.

“However, this announcement is no substitute for the radical education reform Northern Ireland needs. School place shortages, and the lack of funding for our schools are completely avoidable, and a result of politicians’ unwillingness to reform our divided education system. The NI Audit Office has found that are tens of thousands of empty places throughout schools in Northern Ireland, in part due to our divided education system.

“As the school population increases, it’s important that education funding is increased as well. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that Northern Ireland spends less on each school pupil's education, and has faced the highest school spending cuts per pupil, anywhere in the United Kingdom.

“The money is there if the five-party Executive chooses to reform our education system. An Ulster University report found that the costs of segregation in our education system could be as much as £95 million a year. The consequences of the status quo are also costly – according to the Integrated Education Fund, over £1 billion has been spent on various cross-community initiatives in the last decade to correct the prejudices caused by educational segregation.

“This money would be better spent directly on the education of our children and young people, rather than on dividing them, and then having to address the consequences of that division.”


Media contact: Jack O’Dwyer-Henry (07504410770)