An election candidate has spoken out about the threat which increased national insurance contributions and superannuation pose to school budgets. Frank Shivers, the Conservative candidate in North Down, urged the next education minister to “act quickly to ensure that schools are not starved of funds”.

“Employers’ contributions to teachers’ national insurance and pensions are rising, and currently schools are being asked to pay for this out of their budgets”, Frank explained. “That’s something which the new education minister has to look at quickly, whenever the Executive is convened after the election. At the moment, head-teachers are gravely concerned that their budgets will be squeezed and money which should be going into providing the best education for pupils will be going instead into NIC and pension pots.”

“The new minister needs to make sure that school budgets reflect the extra pressures which these increases will exert. That means finding more money for schools, by eliminating waste and some of the questionable policies enacted by John O’Dowd. There is an opportunity to repair the damage Sinn Fein has done to education in Northern Ireland since the outset of devolution here. That means listening to the concerns of parents and teachers. The burning issue around school budgets is a great place to start.”