Article from the November 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI
Opposing education cuts - Opposing education cuts - Opposing education cuts
School privatisation shambles
By Padraig Mulholland
NEW LABOUR'S much trumpeted "Public Private Partnership" school privatisation programme in Northern Ireland is in serious trouble. Despite being warned by educational professionals that PPP is not suitable for schools, the government pressed ahead.
A fundamental problem with PPP in education is that funding is based on the number of pupils attending the school. It has always been accepted that pupil numbers cannot be predicted more than three to five years ahead.
Unfortunately, the government has insisted that the pupil numbers are worked out over the life of a PPP contract - a 25 - 30 year period. This miscalculation has been exposed following the disastrous drop in pupil numbers at the flagship PPP school - Balmoral High School in West Belfast - which is heading for financial collapse. It seems that the penny may have finally dropped with the government and an undignified scramble has begun to find a way out of the PPP process in schools.
The government now faces the prospect of been sued by multi nationals who have already spent money preparing to run schools.
Children's safety put at risk
PARENTS HAVE been involved in a hard hitting campaign to protect the lives of children who attend Brooklands Primary School in Dundonald.
The campaign developed following the retirement of the local lollipop patrol and a decision by the South Eastern Education Board not to replace him.
Since the decision was taken, parents and school staff have held protests demanding his replacement and have established their own patrols to help children cross the road safely. The campaign has put the education board under huge pressure and there are signs that they may break in the near future.
Although only one of many cuts introduced across education in Northern Ireland, this cut is particularly worrying for parents everywhere in that the safety of children is directly affected.
In these circumstances there is no choice other than to follow the lead of the Brooklands' parents and fight back.