The Transferor Representatives’ Council, which represents the three main Protestant Churches in education, is deeply disappointed by the decision to cut the Shared Education budget by 50% and remove financial support for this initiative in the next financial year.
Pre-pandemic, more than 87,000 children and young people were involved in Shared Education projects. As we continue to emerge from the worst effects of Covid it is vital that we promote and encourage the growth of Shared Education, which enables staff and pupils from different backgrounds, to work together on a regular basis bringing significant educational, social and community benefits. This also includes giving pupils the opportunity to study subjects at GCSE level at their partner schools that are not taught at their own.
The reduction of this funding in this financial year, and proposed complete removal next year, which will disproportionately impact the controlled and maintained sectors, will be to the detriment not only of children and young people, but also to good relations across society. This is on top of significant cuts to other areas of the education budget, many of which are specifically targeted towards providing a better start for the most vulnerable children among us.
TRC is deeply concerned about this direction of travel, not least because of the endemic underfunding of the education system in recent years. Cuts to funding are short-sighted especially when the impact of these decisions on the mental and physical well-being of children and young people will be significant.
TRC calls on all in government to reconsider this negative impact on the most vulnerable in society and give education the proper funding it requires, and particularly in the area of Shared Education.