Budget 2019 marks the third year of a major reinvestment in education. In 2019, the budget for the Department of Education and Skills will increase by €674 million, which represents a 6.7% increase on last year's budget. In total, the education budget will have increased by €1.7 billion compared with 2016. I am holding a symposium tomorrow to engage with people and organisations who work in and with small schools. I am interested to listen to the views of the experts, but more importantly to engage with ideas and proposals on how to support and sustain small schools as a key component of the primary education system. I know my colleagues around the House will be very interested in that. I am working on the assumption that they have been notified about the symposium by email. If they have not been notified, I would like to let them know publicly now that the symposium is taking place in the Hugh Lane Gallery. If they need any information about times etc. they can contact my office. The purpose of the symposium is to focus on how to strengthen and sustain our small primary schools that have one, two, three or four teachers.
With regard to class sizes, it is important to point out that 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. The numbers employed in our schools will reach the highest ever level in the coming school year. 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.
I am aware of the workload burdens placed on schools. The primary education forum was established in September 2018 to support the planning and sequencing of change in the primary school sector and to exchange information on the intentions and impacts of the actions in the action plan for education to look for synergies and opportunities to streamline implementation and address workload issues. In adopting this approach, my Department and its partners have agreed to make several changes to the pace and sequence of the planned reforms, including the implementation of the primary mathematics curriculum and, second, to sequence the commencement the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
In addition to managing the sequence of change, the leadership framework introduced in 2017 allows for flexibility in identifying and prioritising the evolving leadership and management needs of schools and in assigning and reassigning post holders to specific roles and responsibilities to meet the evolving needs of schools. Some €2.75 million was allocated in budget 2017 to restore middle management positions. Today, more than one in three primary school teachers holds a management position. In addition, schools with teaching principals saw an increase in the number of principal release days in each of the last two budgets.
I am pleased to have been able to provide for a 5% increase in capitation funding for primary and post-primary schools. This will apply from the start of the 2019-20 school year. Over the course of the 2019-20 school year, an additional €10 million will be allocated to primary and post-primary schools, of which €4 million will be allocated in 2019. I fully acknowledge that the issues raised by the Deputy in her question are important for future investment. I will take account of the budgetary submissions from all the relevant education stakeholders.