My aim for Budget 2020 is to progressively deliver on the commitments set out in the Programme for Government, the Confidence and Supply Arrangement and my Department's Statement of Strategy and Action Plan, and to meet demographic and demand pressures.
Over the past number of years, the Government has invested significant additional resources in education and training, which has delivered thousands of extra teaching and Special Needs Assistant posts in our schools, increased investment in higher education, expanded apprenticeships and traineeships, increased capitation in schools, enhanced supports for school leadership and improved the staffing schedule in primary schools. The extra teachers in schools and improved staffing schedule measures have resulted in a continued reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) in schools with the primary PTR improving from 21.0:1 in 1998 to 15.1:1 in 2018 and post primary PTR improving from 15.0:1 to 12.7:1 over the same period.
In looking at the competing demands for the next Budget, I must have regard to the level of resources which will be available to my Department, in the context of the continuing need for the Government to prudently manage the economy and the public finances and have regard to risks, including those associated with Brexit.
The economic, fiscal and budgetary context for these decisions have been set out in the 2019 Summer Economic Statement, which was published on 25 June by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform.
It will be in that context that I will formulate specific budgetary priorities, having regard to the views of the education partners and all concerned stakeholders.