I wish to advise the Deputy that 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, a 6.7% increase on last year. In total, the Education budget will have increased by €1.7 billion compared to 2016.
For the current school year, the staffing schedule at Primary level operates on a general average of 26 pupils to every 1 teacher (26:1), which is historically the lowest ever allocation ratio at primary level.
Each 1 point adjustment to the primary staffing schedule creates an approximate 300 additional mainstream posts. It should be noted that such an adjustment may not warrant provision of additional accommodation across all primary schools as some schools may have capacity within their existing buildings to cater for staff increases. However, where additional accommodation is needed the costs associated with providing permanent accommodation will vary depending on a range of factors including the extent of the accommodation to be provided, linking new permanent accommodation with existing facilities, site topography, geographical location of schools and costs associated with complying with statutory requirements.
The Programme for Government has a commitment to reduce class sizes at primary level and it is my intention to make further improvements to class sizes over the life of the Government.