The Action Plan for Education outlines a series of actions to be taken to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe. Since May 2016, we have cut the pupil teacher ratio at primary level twice, provided for 3,000 special needs assistants and more than 5,000 new teaching posts, with an additional 1,280 posts for the coming school year as a result of budget 2018. We have also provided 1,300 new middle management positions at primary level, 1,300 at post-primary level and provided summer works and minor works grants worth €125 million.
On pay equity, any further negotiation on new entrant pay is a cross-sectoral issue and not just an issue for the education sector. The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 contains a commitment to consider the issue of newly qualified pay within 12 months of the agreement’s commencement, and that process has started with all the teaching unions involved. The Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 provides that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will lay a report before the Oireachtas on the cost of, and a plan to deal with, pay equalisation for new entrants within three months of the passing of the Act.
I have been able to win substantial extra resources for primary education in the past two years, and it is through the annual budgetary process each year and in future budgets that further progress will be made. I also draw the Deputy's attention to the recently published national development plan which provided €8.8 billion in investment in school buildings over the coming ten years. I will be seeking additional resources in this autumn's budget and it is the overall resources available to the Government, divided across all Departments, that will determine the scope of the improvements I will be able to make.