DALRIADA Headmaster Tom Skelton has said that decreasing budgets are hampering Dalriada's ability “to deliver high quality education,” also revealing that capital development projects at the school “have been put on hold.”
Mr Skelton's concerns were endorsed by the Chairman of the Board of Governors Mr B.J.Dillon, who said: “the greatest challenge facing Dalriada is funding.”
Both men made their remarks at last week's Prize Day, were Mr Skelton also revealed the iconic 'Dalriad' school magazine, once edited by the late Alex Blair, could be axed because of cuts.
“Feelings of isolation and desperation continue to increase” because of the absence of the Stormont Assembly,” he told the many assembled pupils, parents and guests.
Mr Skelton said: “This has been a turbulent year for Dalriada School and indeed for education in general with schools forced to survive on declining budgets yet be expected to maintain their quality of provision for pupils. The absence of the Stormont Assembly has exacerbated the situation resulting in a lack of decision making in education and all the areas affecting the quality of life in Northern Ireland. As each day passes with no sign of resolution in sight the feelings of isolation and desperation continue to increase.”
Mr Skelton continued: “Unfortunately, the decreasing budget allocated to schools continues to hamper the ability of schools to deliver high quality education and Dalriada is no exception. In the present challenging financial situation any future capital development projects have been put on hold.
“However, despite the financial challenges Dalriada somehow manages to maintain our outstanding curricular and extra-curricular provision.
In his speech the Chairman of the Board of Governors Mr B.J.Dillon also raised the issue of funding, urging parents to assist the school financially, if they could.
Mr Dillon told all present: “The greatest challenge facing Dalriada is funding. We are in a time of severe budgetary constraint. With a reduction in the money allocated this year to operate the school, support from Parents, in paying all requested contributions, is vital to maintain high quality academic and extracurricular educational opportunities. I urge you all to make this commitment to an outstanding school worth supporting. Please encourage those not present today to make a similar commitment. If you are eligible, completion of a Gift Aid form will enable Dalriada to claim an additional 25pence in the pound from the government.”
Mr Skelton commended “The Friends of Dalriada” group, though in existence for just over two years, had already managed to raise over £20,000.
“A tremendous achievement,” he said, with the group providing financial support for the school as well as a programme of well supported, highly enjoyable events.
“Repainting corridors and classrooms, new classroom furniture and carpets, and refurbishment of toilets have all been made possible by this financial support.” he said.
On a more gloomy note, Mr Skelton, after commending Mrs Williamson, on this year’s “superbly produced” Dalriad school magazine, told his audience, “Unfortunately, this may be the last year we publish the Dalriad in the present format due to production costs.”