I thank Deputy Curran. I recognise the need to improve capitation funding for schools, including DEIS schools, having regard to the reductions that were necessary over recent years.
Restoring of capitation funding as resources permit is one of the actions included in the Action Plan for Education and I remain committed to achieving this. However, I must be prudent in the context of ongoing budgetary pressures and prioritise where it is not possible to do everything that I would like to do.
As Deputy Curran is aware, I have made provision for 6,000 additional teachers, 3,000 extra special needs assistants and 3,000 new middle-management posts. These resources were allocated to improve the learning experience throughout the sector with a particular focus on children with special needs.
The Deputy will be aware that budget 2018 saw the allocation of significant new resources. We have seen the budget grow to €10 billion, its highest ever. Improvements have been made in the restoration of grant funding used by schools to cover the salaries of ancillary staff. That has involved the provision of additional grants of €6 million. However, the other element of the capitation grant has not increased in recent years. It will, however, be one of the issues we will assess in line with other competing demands on the education budget as we approach budget 2019.