Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Fair Deal for All Children

I have strongly supported the call for more equable funding for schools dealing with service children and those from similar groups. I know from first hand experience through my involvement with Crawfordsburn Primary School that inadequate funding is presently provided for such children. And I also know that other schools in the SEELB area – eg Holywood and Tyrella – are also faced with financial problems because insufficient finance is provided under the present unsatisfactory arrangements.

Schools such as Crawfordsburn are delighted and welcome service children, they do provide an extra dimension to the life of the school. However, schools are faced with considerable extra expense under the present system. The pupils often arrive at short notice and are from a range of different schooling backgrounds. It can then be difficult to fully integrate them into the life of the school and the Northern Ireland curriculum.

At present schools do not receive the necessary additional income to cater for the needs of service children adequately. These children at present receive less additional funding then do other specialist groups, eg travellers. In fairness to schools such as Crawfordsburn we must insist that the Department of Education give each and every child a fair chance and that equable funding is granted to service children.