Funding withheld from our schools

Corpus Christi Principal Frank Maskey Corpus Christi Principal Frank Maskey
By Caoimhe Quinn

A Belfast school is demanding answers after vital funding from the British Home Office was not delivered for up to 30 Syrian students at the school.
The Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (SVPRS) was established by the UK government to support school children refugees in the north of Ireland. £4,500 was to be provided towards each Syrian child’s education costs for the year.
Corpus Christi School Principal Frank Maskey said serious questions needed to be asked regarding the poor delivery of the funding, which he himself was not informed existed.
“First off we were never informed that this funding was available to support the engagement of these children into our school,” he slammed.
“We have children from Syria, Palestine, and so on who come to the north without their English language and yet it’s only the Syrian children who qualify. We need a great deal of resources to help these children who are wonderful but need help and the resources to deliver the help should be there from day one.
“The reality is that most of these children arrive without their basic English and this funding could provide vital resources which would allow us to help the children better adapt to their new school surroundings.”
The first tranche of Syrian refugee children arrived in June 2016 but Mr Maskey claims that this funding was not delivered until March 2017 and it was only £10,5000 in total with no subsequent payments.
“I don’t know where the rest of the money has gone,” he said. “It’s absolutely appalling that whilst these resources exist we are left taking from other resources across the school funding that could have been used for other purposes. Granted, no child at the school has gone without, but by not delivering this funding we have no choice but to divide our resources to help these children during their transition, including funding which could be used for other purposes and children in the school.
“I have asked our local MP Paul Maskey to get some answers from the Home Office.”
Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said he is awaiting a response from the Home Office regarding the on-going issue.
“Once I heard the news I contacted the Education Authority (EA) who have told me that the hold up of this funding is from the Home Office,” he explained. “I have written a letter to the Home Office asking why this has been when our schools were promised that they would not be adversely impacted upon. I have urged them to make a payment to the EA as soon as possible to allow them to distribute these funds to the schools.”
The Department of Education said that the funding arrangements were governed by a memorandum of understanding between the Home Office and the Executive office. They said the memorandum of understanding was being revised and that payments for 2017-18 would be made in the wake of that agreement.

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