Cost of Education – April 2018 update

Scroll down to view out 2018 cost of education update.

At the beginning of September 2017 NICCY published “A free education – The cost of education in Northern Ireland.”  The report was the culmination of a detailed piece of research with over 1,000 parents and identified the costs of educating our children.  The report demonstrates that children in Northern Ireland are not accessing a free education. Mindful of the current economic climate and in attempting to adopt a pragmatic approach, NICCY felt it was important to provide some context for the findings of the research and in the absence of any other data set, we accessed the Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis, 2017 (published by HM Treasury)[1] which compares education spend across the four jurisdictions of the UK.  While these figures are accurate what is spent under each budget heading differs by jurisdiction.

My office engaged with the Department of Education officials on the areas included under each budget heading both prior and subsequent to publication. We were initially provided with a list of areas by budget headings such as ‘subsidiary services’ and ‘n.e.c’ and then again with a more comprehensive list under these headings post publication[2]. An appendix was added to our report in October 2017 to reflect the additional information from the Department.[3] It is important to note that other UK education authorities were not given the opportunity to amend their categories.

Northern Ireland’s education system is experiencing unprecedented and crippling financial challenges which will undoubtedly affect outcomes for children and young people.  Reform is required which must be informed by facts, evidence and complete data and focused on realising the rights of children and young people. I am pleased that my office will be working with the Department to fully understand our cost of education. It is imperative that, at a minimum, the spend on education of children in Northern Ireland is equal to that in other jurisdictions.

You can see:


[1] HM Treasury (July 2017), Public Expenditure: Statistical Analyses 2017, (London: Treasury).

[2]   subsidiary services means “home to school transport; school meals and milk; schools development services; pupil support (special schools and other education services); and other Education Authority centre services” while the not elsewhere classified spending is a catch all that includes administrative costs and also applies to “special schools; Non-Departmental Public Bodies (e.g. Education Authority, CCEA, CCMS, GTCNI, CnaG, NICIE, Middletown); capital (minor works, major works, special schools); departmental costs; and grants for education services”.

[3] Appendix 1, “A free education – The cost of education in Northern Ireland, October 2017, NICCY.