Despite Budget 2020 being prepared in the context of a possible no deal Brexit and the Government's necessity to plan for the economic impact of such a possibility, since May 2016 we have:
- provided for an additional 3,000 SNAs and over 7,300 new teaching posts, with a further 1,000 SNA positions and 581 teaching posts for the 2020/21 school year as a result of Budget 2020.
- cut the staffing schedule at primary level twice which brought the position to a general average of 26 pupils to every 1 teacher the lowest ever allocation ratio at primary level.
- introduced a more favourable staffing schedule in more than 1350 small schools with four teachers or less from September 2020; this Budget 2020 measure of improved teacher staffing levels will see a more favourable pupil teacher ratio in small schools. This improved schedule will apply in two, three and four teacher schools and ensure one less pupil is required to retain/recruit a teacher.
- provided 1,300 new middle management positions at primary level (also 1,300 at post-primary level)
- increased significantly the number of release days allowed to “Teaching Principals” with a further additional release day to all schools in September 2020 as a result of Budget 2020.
- increased capitation by 5% in Budget 2019 and a further 2.5% in Budget 2020
- Increased the ancillary grant in primary schools by €22 per pupil
I have taken steps in Budget 2020 to build on the steps taken in recent budgets to meet the goals set out in the Action Plan for Education.
In the current school year, the numbers employed in our schools have reached their highest ever level at almost 71,000.
Teacher numbers at primary level have increased by almost 3,500 when comparing the 2015/16 school year with the current school year and this has led to a steady improvement in the pupil teacher ratio and average class size statistics during this period.
Substantial extra resources for primary education have being gained in the past three budgets and it is through the annual budgetary process each year and future budgets that further progress will be made.