I propose to take Questions Nos. 207 and 208 together.
Budget 2019 marks the third year of a major reinvestment in the education sector, as we continue to implement the Action Plan for Education, our plan to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. In 2019, the budget for the Department of Education and Skills will increase by €674 million, a 6.7% increase on last year. In total, the Education budget will have increased by €1.7 billion compared to 2016.
Budget 2019 will see numbers employed in our schools reach the highest ever level. Over 1,300 additional posts in schools will be funded, including more than 370 teaching posts to cater for growth in student population and additional special classes. This builds on the Budget 2018 measure which provided a one point improvement in the staffing schedule in primary schools which brings the position to the most favourable ever seen at primary level.
The 2018/19 school year saw an increase of over 6000 teaching posts in our schools compared to the 2015/16 school year.
The Statistics Section of my Department's website contains extensive data in relation to our schools including pupil teacher ratios and teacher numbers. The latest figures in relation to pupil teacher ratios show an improved ratio of teachers to students from 16:1 to 15.3:1 at primary level and 13.8:1 to 13.1:1 at post primary level when comparing the 2015/16 school year to the 2017/18 school year.