10 October, 2017 - Over 2,000 new Teachers and SNAs in largest ever Education Budget

Education budget will increase by €554 million to over €10 billion in 2018, a 5.8% increase

Budget 2018 marks the second year of major reinvestment in the education sector, as we continue to implement the Action Plan for Education, which has the central aim to make the Irish Education and training service the best in Europe within a decade. In 2018, the budget for the Department of Education and Skills will increase by €554 million to over €10 billion in 2018, a 5.8% increase on last year’s budget allocation.

Investment in Education is vital to creating a Republic of Opportunity, where every person and every family has the opportunity to fulfil their full potential.

In Budgets 2017 and 2018 investment by government in Education will have increased by over €1 Billion. This is one of the largest ever two year increases in the Education Budget. This significant investment reflects the priority which government has put on education on delivering on our ambition to deliver a fair society and a strong economy.

Key measures in Budget 2018 include:

New teaching and SNA posts:  Over 2,200 extra posts in schools will be provided in September 2018, including:

  • 1,091 Special Needs Assistants
  • 1,280 new teaching posts in schools in 2018. Including:
  • 545 new teaching posts to cater for an estimated 8000 extra pupils in 2018
  • 305 posts to provide for a reduction in the primary staffing schedule from 27:1 to 26:1
  • 230 new teachers in special classes and special schools 
  • 100 new Special Education teachers
  • 100 teaching posts for guidance
  • 10 NEPS psychologists will be recruited in 2018.

New initiatives: A further €5.5 million will be allocated to provide support for a range of new policy measures including implementation of the forthcoming foreign languages strategy, STEM education policy, digital learning strategy and the Government’s Creative Ireland initiative.

Focus on wellbeing: Ensuring the wellbeing of students is a key priority of government. The equivalent of 100 additional guidance posts will be provided in September 2018. This will mean that 500 guidance posts will have been restored (out of 600 which were previously cut). These posts will be allocated separately and transparently and outside of the quota on the schedule of posts. 10 new NEPS psychologists will be hired in 2018

Further and higher education: additional provision of €64.5 million will be allocated to higher and further education and training in 2018, including €47.5 million from an increase in the National Training Fund levy. In total, investment in higher and further education will be €100 million higher in 2018 than in 2016 (€53.5m in increased exchequer funding - including Budget 2017 carryover measures and the additional €17 million in 2018 - and €47.5m from an increase in the NTF levy). The increase in the NTF levy follows on from a public consultation which was announced by Minister Bruton and Minister Donohoe earlier this year. In total, in the period 2017-2018 over €137 million in additional funding will be invested in higher and further education.

Measures in 2018 include:

  • 1,000 additional Springboard places
  • A range of new upskilling and reskilling initiatives that will be developed in consultation with employers to response to regional skills needs
  • Enhanced funding for Skillnets to deliver training in key skills areas identified by employers such as Life Sciences; Brexit and International Financial Services; Data Analytics; and Sustainability, Green Finance and Responsible Investments
  • Over 6,000 new apprenticeships and 10 new apprenticeship schemes
  • A new performance and innovation fund that will support capacity building in higher education institutions and reward institutions that exceed targets in key priority area
  • Enhanced post-graduate funding and bursaries for disadvantaged students,
  • Progress on Technological Universities and institutional mergers
  • Funding will be provided to cater for demographic growth, facilitating 2,100 new students to access higher education. 
  • Also, following the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Plan, an additional €8 million in capital funding is being allocated to the higher and further education sectors in 2018.  This will be used to fund capital costs associated with apprenticeship expansion.

Reform of the National Training Fund: A range of reforms will be introduced in response to issues raised by employers as part of the consultation process on the Employer-Exchequer Investment Mechanism. This includes an independent review of the National Training Fund to make it more transparent, as well as to better align the NTF with employer needs, including increasing “in employment” programmes to €154 million in 2018 (from €106 million in 2017), significant additional and refocused funding on programmes relevant to employers and a greater say for employers, more transparency and more evaluation.  

Curricular reform: Budget 2018 makes provision to support our curricular reform programme, including the roll out of Junior Cycle Reform with Home Economics, History, Music, Geography and Mathematics, commencing in September 2018. €13 million of new and reallocated funding will be provided to deliver continued implementation of Junior Cycle reform, delivery of a range of other curriculum reforms in areas such as primary language, politics & society, agricultural science, applied maths, physical education, computer science and science.  

Tackling educational disadvantage: Further provision is being made to continue the implementation of the Action Plan to tackle educational disadvantage.

Speech and Language: €2 million will be provided to initiate a pilot in-school speech and language therapy programme, as committed to in the Programme for Government. This new programme, which will be announced shortly will see children being able to access in-school speech and language services.

School leadership: Building on measures in previous budgets to enhance school leadership, this Budget will make €0.4 million available to fund additional release days for teaching principals in primary schools, which allows them to undertake administrative, leadership and management functions within the school.

Innovation: Innovation in schools will be promoted through the development of DEIS and digital clusters, which will encourage schools to work together and promote innovation.

Gaeltacht education: Over €1million will also be allocated to continued implementation of the Policy on Gaeltacht Education.

Capital: Following the Capital Review, additional capital funding of €663 million has been allocated to the education sector over the period 2018-2021.  €28 million of this is available in 2018.

Half of the additional capital funding (€332m) will be provided to the schools sector, boosting investment in our primary and post-primary schools infrastructure.  It is planned that in the period 2018 to 2021, over 350 announced large scale projects will advance to tender and construction under the Department’s Six Year construction programme.  These projects consist of new schools, large scale extensions and major refurbishment works.

€331 million over the period 2018-2021 will be used to significantly boost capital investment in higher and further education, including research.  This will be allocated as follows: 

  • €257 million will be provided to support higher education institutions in catering for demographic growth, expanding skills capacity and making necessary upgrades to core campus infrastructure.
  • €53 million will support the further education and training sector to cover capital costs associated with new apprenticeship courses and new syllabi, as well as initiating a small number of building projects in the sector
  • €21 million will be used to support the development of a pipeline of researchers at all career stages and across all disciplines.

This investment will take place alongside the roll-out of a major €200m Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Programme for the higher education sector, details of which will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Lansdowne Road Agreement – An additional €65 million will be provided under the extension to the Lansdowne Road Agreement in 2018. This will see a new teacher, straight out of college, start on €35,958 from the 1st of January 2018. In October 2020 a new teacher, straight out of college, will start on €37,692. The gross cost of the Haddington Road Agreement, Lansdowne Road Agreement and the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 in the education and training sector in 2018 will be €236 million. 

Minister Bruton announced the details of the Education & Skills Estimates for 2018 at a press conference in Government Buildings, accompanied by Minister of State for Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister of State for Skills John Halligan and the Secretary General of the Department Seán Ó Foghlú

Minister Bruton said:

“This marks my second budget as Minister for Education and Skills. In that time I am pleased to be able to have had increased our investment in education and training by over €1 Billion. We are now spending more on education than ever before. This shows the strong priority that the government has put on education, which is key to helping everyone to fulfil their potential. Nothing is more effective at breaking down cycles of disadvantage and achieving the republic of opportunity which we wish to create.

“That is why I have set the ambition to make Ireland the best Education and Training Service within a decade. This Budget is the second year of a major reinvestment in education and will enable us to meet our ambition.

“We will continue to invest to support children with special educational needs so that every child can achieve their potential. Over one thousand new SNA positions are being announced today. This investment will ensure every child who needs SNA support, will receive it. In total, this brings to 3,000 the number of extra SNA positions announced since I was appointed.

“1,200 extra teachers will be recruited in our schools. This will provide for demographic increases, a reduction in class sizes, an increase in guidance provision, as well as extra teachers for special classes and special schools. The reduction in class sizes fulfils a commitment in the Programme for Government and the Action Plan for Education, and is the lowest level that has ever been.

“State of the Art facilities are key to being the best in Europe and we’re investing heavily in new schools to cater for all these extra teachers and our growing population with a €745m capital investment programme in 2018.

“We are prioritizing of the development of a number of new initiatives, including a new Foreign Languages Strategy, a STEM education policy, a Digital schools clustering programme and a new in-school speech and language therapy pilot.

“Nothing is more important that ensuring the wellbeing of our children and we are continuing our focus on this area with an additional 10 new NEPS psychologists and an extra 100 guidance posts.

“We’re investing in Higher and further Education, with €64m in 2018 in Exchequer funding and funding from the National Training Fund, which we will also be reforming in response to employer feedback. In total, investment in higher and further education will be €100 million higher in 2018 than in 2016.

“Our programme of curricular reform will gather pace with this Budget allowing us to deliver a range of curricular reforms in areas such as physical education and computer science.

“Our emphasis on tackling disadvantage and improving access to education will continue with this year’s budget providing additional funding for our DEIS programme.

Taken together, these new measures, along with all the activities that already underway will ensure we are well on our way to becoming the best education and training service in Europe within a decade.”

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said:

“After a relatively short time in the Department of Education, I am delighted to be able to announce a comprehensive major new investment in current and capital spending on 3rd Level education.

“This includes a significant increase in capital investment in Higher Education over the remaining period of the Capital Plan.

“The Exchequer envelope over the period 2018-2021 will be increased from €110m to €367 million.

“This is in addition to the €200m worth of projects which are being selected to progress as part of a Public Private Partnership Programme for the higher education sector.

“These combined investments will now put us in a position to make real and substantial progress in addressing the infrastructure deficits in the sector – expanding capacity in areas of key skill needs, driving regional development, orienting for demographic growth, and ensuring that core campus infrastructure is fit for purpose.

“The new investment will also support the development of Technological Universities across the country.   It is my intention to have this Bill passed by Christmas and the first applications for designation will follow the enactment of the Technological Universities Bill.

“I am delighted that we are responding to the increasing demographics and are providing an additional 2100 student places in higher education.   The opportunity now exists for more students to avail of further education.  

“Throughout my career, I have been a strong advocate of opening up our Third Level institutions for students from disadvantaged communities and we are continuing to invest in broadening access to higher education. We are providing an additional €4m for access measures in 2018.   This complements the €8.5m that was provided in 2017 and which will be provided again in 2018.   It also complements the funding of €450m that is provided on an annual basis by the Department for access measures including the student grant scheme.

“On the reform of the National Training Fund reform it is my intention to continue constructive dialogue with employer representatives to ensure the closest possible alignment of their needs and programmes run under the Department of Education.

"I am also providing funding to support greater gender equality in the sector and the forthcoming work of the Gender Taskforce.”

Minister Halligan said:

"The allocation of €19 million to a package specifically aimed at the Skills sector is a direct response to our national skills shortages and the priority needs identified by employers. The strategic measures to be implemented under Budget 2018, which include the creation of an additional 1,000 places on Springboard+, more than 6,000 new apprenticeship registrations and ten new apprenticeship programmes, a 50% increase in traineeship places and a €3.5 million increase in Skillnets funding, will ensure greater focus on training and upskilling of both the unemployed and those in employment, which is of paramount importance in ensuring Irish enterprise has the skilled workforce needed to grow and prosper."