In September 2016, I launched the first Action Plan for Education (2016-2019), which sets out our ambition to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026.
The Action Planning process recognises that there is no big bang solution and that our success will be achieved by the implementation of hundreds of actions across the sector in its entirety.
I noted at the time that the publication of the Action Plan 2016-2019 was the beginning of an annual process. More detailed actions, with quarterly delivery dates, are identified in updated annual plans. These Plans are based on the original five high-level goals:
1. Improve the learning experience and the success of learners
2. Improve the progress of learners at risk of educational disadvantage or learners with special educational needs
3. Help those delivering education services to continually improve
4. Build stronger bridges between education and the wider community
5. Improve national planning and support services
Progress is monitored through the publication of End of Year Review reports and quarterly progress reports. All of these are available on the Department’s website www.education.ie and show the extent to which we are delivering what we said we would. They also help to ensure that attention is focused on areas where progress has not been as expected, in order to drive further change.
Next week, I will be launching the Action Plan for 2018, which has over 300 actions and subactions for delivery during the year. They are all aimed at furthering progress towards our overall ambition of being the best in Europe by 2026.
Some of the key themes that we will be focussing on this year are:
- Continuing our programme of curricular reform and developing critical skills to build momentum behind our ambitions
- Increasing the use of ICT in teaching, learning and assessment to help our young people develop 21st century skills
- Accelerating the good progress made to date in opening up opportunities for learners at risk of disadvantage.
- Continuing with steadily increasing the inclusion of children in the education system.
- Improving teacher education, leadership, quality and promoting excellence in education settings
- Rapidly expanding the programmes which respond to changing skill needs of enterprise and creating a greater diversity of opportunity in learning beyond school.
- Undertaking several measures to grow a vibrant research community
- Increasing our infrastructural capacity in order to meet demographic and other demands
A range of indicators are also included in the Plan. These are based on national and international benchmarks, and will enhance our monitoring arrangements.
In addition, I will also be publishing the 2017 End of Year Review. This shows the progress we made during 2017, with 86% of scheduled actions delivered.
Cumulatively, the Action Plans and monitoring process will ensure we achieve the ambition of the Action Plan.