In the latest series of blows to the educational crisis, the Department of Education has announced its decision to cut the Extended Schools Programme.
The programme which is a lifeline to many disadvantaged young people and children and those struggling with mental health issues will end on 30 June.
The Department of Education (DE) has stated that there is currently “no funding available” for the programme beyond 30 June 2023 and “schools have been advised to plan on that basis”.
The Extended School Programme aims to improve levels of educational achievement by providing the additional support that they might need to help them reach their full potential.
Launched in May 2006, over £150m of funding has been provided through it.
The programme enabled schools to provide activities which are designed to support learning, raise school standards and promote healthy lifestyles.
Breakfast and homework clubs, sport, art, drama, ICT, programmes for parents and families and community use of school premises were all part of the programme.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “The Department has yet to receive its confirmed budget for 2023-24 but the indicative allocation from the Northern Ireland Office is extremely challenging and will require further significant reductions across a wide range of areas. Moreover, funding of £5.8m for the Extended Schools programme from Confidence and Supply monies has now ended.
“In these circumstances an interim allocation of £2.3m will be provided to sustain Extended Schools provision until the end of this academic year. The Department will finalise the Extended Schools allocation following confirmation of the education budget.
The spokesperson added: “We regret the uncertainty this will create and are grateful for the work, dedication and commitment of those who support the Extended Schools programme and the benefits they deliver to our children and young people on a daily basis.”