Public Service Reform

Public Service Reform in Education and Training SectorAP19_Cover


An extensive programme of reform is being implemented on a system wide basis across the Education and Training Sector. Major change initiatives and key milestones are captured in the Action Plan for Education 2019 and the Statement of Strategy 2019 – 2021.

The education reform programme enhances and develops the five key goals of the Department's Strategy Statement 2019 to 2021:

  • Shape a responsive education and training system that meets the needs and raises the aspirations of all learners
  • Advance the progress of learners at risk of educational disadvantage and learners with special educational needs in order to support them to achieve their potential
  • Equip education and training providers with the skills and support to provide a quality learning experience
  • Intensify the relationships between education and the wider community, society and the economy
  • Lead in the delivery of strategic direction and supportive systems in partnership with key stakeholders in education and training

To oversee this programme of reform in the Education and Training Sector, the Department has established an Education and Training Reform Board and a Public Service Reform (PSR) Programme Office. The Department is working closely with national agencies and other Government Departments to implement this ambitious programme of reform.

Our Public Service 2020

Our Public Service 2020 is the framework for development and innovation in the public service. It was launched in December 2017, succeeding two public service reform plans which began in 2011.

This phase of public service reform focuses on supporting sustainable, continuous progress across the public service.

It aims to build a stronger public service and to deliver better quality services to the Irish public. Implementation of the framework began in 2018.

There are 18 actions which include new initiatives and actions focused on building on reforms already in place.

Our Public Service 2020 is built on three pillars:

  • delivering for our public
  • innovating for our future
  • developing our people and organisations

The framework has 18 headline actions spanning the three pillars and representing cross-cutting strategic reforms that are being implemented across the public service. The objective is that, by 2020, these actions will be significantly advanced across the public service.

You can download a copy of Our Public Service 2020 and related material including a summary booklet and Irish language versions here.

Action 14 – Continuous and Responsive Personal and Professional Development (CPPD)

The vision for this Action 14 of Our Public Service 20202 is the development of a public service that values learning and development to support meaningful career pathways for professionals and generalists, irrespective of grade or location, and provides opportunities for personal and professional development that benefits the individual, the organisation in which they work, and the citizens which they serve.

The aim is to encourage a culture across our public service organisations that is people-centred and learning-focused. This is to provide an environment in which learning and personal and professional development are recognised and valued as key success factors in building an agile workforce, developing and retaining people and delivering quality services.

This action incorporates all of the learning and development initiatives and opportunities which impact on the roles that people currently have across the public service, as well as the roles they will have in the future. It is not limited to purely ’professional’ training as required in specific areas, such as medicine and teaching. Instead, it includes providing for learning and development opportunities, allowing for mobility and temporary secondments, and, where necessary, changing cultural values to reinforce Continuing Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) offerings. It is about developing an agile workforce which is prepared for, and can work with, change and complexity.

Action 14 Team is jointly led by the Secretary General of the Department of Education, Seán Ó Foghlú, and the Director General of the Higher Education Authority, Alan Wall.

Process for the recognition of core skills

A learning event took place in March 2019 to share the positive lessons learned from collaborative work between the Institute of Technology Carlow, the Defence Forces and other organisations. The Defence Forces programmes were based on the recognition of ongoing and prior learning, (and certification within the National Framework of Qualifications), of the skills, knowledge and competencies required to operate at different levels in the Defence Forces. Information on the event including presentations can be accessed here.

An approach to the identification of core skills for use across the wider public service is currently being developed.

Sharing leadership CPPD models

A case study was developed by CES, under the guidance of the Action 14 Steering Group and the Department of Education’s PSR Programme to review and capture learnings from two pioneering leadership programmes within the public service, the Centre for School Leadership and the Health Service Leadership Development Academy. Establishing and Implementing Effective Leadership Development Models in the Irish Public Sector: A Case Study, which outlines how learnings from these can be applied across the wider public service to the development of similar programmes, can be accessed here.