‘We need money quickly’ says Greenisland Primary head

Liam McGuckin.
Liam McGuckin.

Parents have been asked to help bridge a shortfall in funding by a cash-strapped East Antrim primary school.

Greenisland Primary’s parents have been asked to increase contributions to help meet running costs.

Principal Liam McGuckin says that the 80-year-old school building at Upper Station Road is “not fit for purpose”.

He stated that after bills are paid, there is just £500 left in the kitty.

“Our school is in need of major redevelopment. It is 80-years-old. We have constant maintenance problems.

“It is an over-subscribed school. There are 406 pupils. It has longterm viability in an area of massive expansion but the facilities are not fit for purpose.

“It is more difficult to keep things going. We really need that money and we need it quickly. Other schools need it too but our school building is out of date. The basic fabric of the building is letting go.

“We have asked parents for an increase in school fund contributions. We have had a fantastic response, a 200 per cent increase. The PTA also helps out with funding.”

Mr. McGuckin was speaking after 16 schools in Northern Ireland were awarded funding through a School Enhancement Programme announcement last week.

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said that he was “deeply disappointed” that none in East Antrim received an award.

Mr. Dickson commented: “I recently brought the Permanent Secretary and the CEO of the Education Authority to visit Greenisland Primary School to see first-hand the decline in the infrastructure of the buildings.

“It, like others, desperately needs additional funding, so essential improvements can be made to enhance the education of their pupils.

“Schools in East Antrim applied for funding from the programme, but were not successful. This is deeply disappointing for the schools in East Antrim that applied to the programme as there is a huge need for improvements and investment in schools in my constituency.

“I encourage heads of schools in East Antrim to keep applying, and hopefully, they will be successful in being awarded the funding to transform their school for the benefit of teachers and pupils alike.”

Mr. McGuickin continued: “As a principal, I am glad my colleagues are getting redevelopment which they very much need but we need it as well and as soon as possible.”

In December, a public meeting organised by the National Association of Head Teachers trade union was held in Carrick to discuss the financial crisis in the education sector.

A spokesperson said: “NAHT(NI) contend that investment in education must be a priority; a recent government report highlighted that funding for education has decreased by ten per cent over a five year period yet the school population has risen by 2.5 per cent in the same time frame.

“This situation is unacceptable. In order to protect the future of our education system and ensure that every child’s needs are met, we must have a properly funded education system.”