The consequences of the cuts to education for children and young people in Northern Ireland

Ciara Fitzpatrick*, Rebecca Loader, Suzanne McCartney, Barbara McConnell , John McMullen, Colin Murray, Karen Orr, Noel Purdy, Victoria Simms

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportOther report

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Senior civil servants have been required by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (NI) to make significant cuts to the education budget to comply with the 2023/24 budget. These cuts are being imposed against a backdrop of the collapse of NI’s power-sharing Executive, which generates an accountability gap for NI citizens and their political representatives. Many of these cuts are being executed without meaningful prior public consultation, not least with the Children and Young People (CYP) who are directly impacted by them. The cuts are numerous and dramatic and will have significant consequences for those CYP who are most intensely impacted by the ongoing Cost-of-Living emergency. In line with the recommendation from the United Nations (UN)Committee on the Rights of the Child to withdraw the NI Budget, the cuts should be urgently reversed and a moratorium placed on any further cuts, until devolved functions are returned to the NI Executive so that decisions that affect the physical and social wellbeing of our children are made by elected representatives who are accountable to democratic institutions and to the public who elected them. Indeed, the Children’s Law Centre has written to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (22 June 2023) urging him to protect children from budget cuts, otherwise, they argue, they will have no alternative but to resort to legal proceedings.

The scale and severity of the cuts prompted this ‘rapid response’ report by a group of academics across Ulster University (UU), Stranmillis University College, Queen's University Belfast (QUB)and Newcastle University. Our contribution seeks to pull together the latest evidence to increase political and public consciousness on both the short and long-term implications of the deep reductions in provision for disadvantaged CYP across a number of areas which reflect our research expertise in law, social policy, child rights, education and psychology.

Our overarching conclusion is that the cuts will increase poverty, widen existing educational achievement gaps, further exacerbate NI’s mental health crisis and send Special Education Needs provision beyond the brink of collapse.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBelfast
Number of pages77
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2023


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