Public Service Reform

Public Service Reform in Education and Training Sector

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 2020 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.


Innovation involves doing things in new or different ways in order to make them better. Our changing world requires innovation to plan and develop services. Our Public Service 2020, the current public service reform plan, established teams to focus on encouraging innovation throughout the public service. Increased use of digital resources focussed on the needs of service users, improved strategic planning and better collaboration across the public service has helped to promote an innovation culture, based on evidence and evaluation.

The Public Service Innovation Strategy was published in November 2020, to embed innovation in order to deliver improved services now and in future. In accordance with this Strategy, the Department of Education’s three priorities to support innovation will be:

  • Citizen-centric Innovation
  • Culture of Innovation, where all staff are inspired, empowered and enabled to innovate
  • Scale Up Innovation, where we will work across sectors and our agencies to optimise efficiency by scaling innovations

Encouraging innovative approaches empowers staff to provide high quality, effective and relevant services to the Department’s stakeholders and is encouraged across the Department and the wider education sector. The Public Service Reform Office will continue to work with partners to deepen and continue to drive a culture of innovation across the Department and the sector to deliver now and to help shape the future.

The Public Service Reform Office organises the Department’s Innovation Week, which provides staff and the wider education community with an opportunity to focus attention on innovation within their organisations and to inspire others to see the opportunities to deliver better and more efficient services to the public.

Innovation Week 2020, which took place from 19 to 23 October, focussed on the range of changes which have taken place across the public service as a result of the pandemic, sharing learnings arising from the new ways of thinking and working that have emerged over the past year.

The Public Service Reform Programme Office hosted a series of interactive webinars during Innovation Week 2020, highlighting the innovative responses developed within the education sector to address challenges posed by the pandemic. Department officials joined teachers, pupils, and parents to discuss these responses, including the delivery of remote teaching during school closures, the significantly expanded Summer Programme made available in 2020 for learners with special educational needs and those most at risk of educational disadvantage, and the arrangements put in place to allow approximately one million children and young people to safely return to school in the context of the pandemic. The Innovation Week 2020 schedule of events can be found below:



Tuesday, 20 October

Supporting the continuity of learning during school closures

This event featured accounts of remote teaching and learning from teachers and students. The Inspectorate and the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) also contributed, detailing their respective roles in supporting remote teaching and learning.

Thursday 22 October

Summer Programme 2020

The event featured discussions on the enhanced capacity of the usual Home Tuition/July Provision scheme and DEIS summer camps, the latter of which had previously taken place only at primary level.

Thursday, 22 October

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) overview

Colleagues from the Department’s Pensions Unit used these two ‘tea talks’ to provide a concise overview of the Unit’s use of RPA to provide more efficient services for retiring and retired teachers.

Friday, 23 October

Supporting the re-opening of schools for 2020/21

This webinar featured a diverse panel on the changes needed to get approximately one million children and young people safely back to school in the context of the ongoing pandemic.

The Public Service Innovation Fund is a competitive fund that aims to support innovative ideas from across public service organisations and turn them into a reality with funding available of up to €60,000 in 2021.

A number of innovation projects in the education sector have previously been awarded funding under this scheme, including:

  • LIFT (Leading Ireland’s Future Together) Youth Personal Development Project – Confey College, Leixlip

  • Bringing Education Alive for our Communities on a National Scale (BEACONS) – The Teaching Council

  • Robotic Processing Automation (RPA) for Pensions – Department of Education

  • Publishing Open Data Across the Public Service – Central Statistics Office and Department of Education

  • Climate Action in Primary Schools (CAPS): An Innovative STEAM Outreach Programme for Primary Schools – Clare Education Centre

  • Newtown Innovation Labs – STEAM Workshops for Students and Teachers – Newtown School, Waterford

Full details relating to projects previously funded and the 2021 Public Service Innovation Fund can be found here.

The Public Service Innovation Hub, which holds innovation related news, information on events, case studies of great public service innovation, and opportunities for self-development and funding can be accessed here.