Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD today announced details of Budget 2023 landmark increases in investment in schools.
Budget 2023 provides an increase of €443 million in core funding, as well as over €145 million in non-core expenditure. This builds on significant increases in recent budgets and further enhances the investment in the primary and post-primary education system. The significant increased investment reflects the Government’s commitment to a quality inclusive school system with improved learning outcomes for every student.
The key features include:
- Over €50 million funding to provide for free books at primary level
- €90m one-off additional funding to support increased school running costs
- 2,180 new teachers and special needs assistants
- Historically low 23:1 staffing schedule at primary level
- Increased investment in special education, social inclusion and wellbeing
Minister Foley said: “I am proud to have secured these ground-breaking investments in our education system, furthering the work of recent years in reducing class sizes, reducing costs for families, tackling disadvantage and supporting the achievement of all our students.
“The introduction of a new scheme to provide free books for all students in primary school has been a priority of mine since taking office and signifies a new chapter in Irish primary education. This permanent initiative will greatly reduce the burden on families and reflects the importance this Government places on education for all children. It will benefit up to 540,000 students, across every county.
“A rise in the cost of living should never be a barrier to education. I am pleased to have the support of my colleagues in Government to ensure this remains the case and as part of the cost of living measures schools in the free education scheme will receive a one-off 40 per cent increase in funding to support increased energy and other costs.
“Government is further delivering on its commitment to reduce class sizes in this Budget. For the third consecutive year I have brought in a measure to reduce class sizes by lowering the staffing schedule for schools, bringing it to an historic low of 23:1 in primary school. When the new staffing schedule is implemented in the next school year, we will see a further reduction in average class sizes, and in the pupil teacher ratio – which is based on the total number of teaching staff in the school. .
“Since 2021 we have invested in an enhanced summer programme, to support students at risk of educational disadvantage and help mitigate learning loss as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The programme has been extremely successful, and I am delighted to announce the further €20 million in funding this year to maintain the availability of this programme for all schools. It has been enormously valuable to students and continues to grow in popularity and in impact.
“This Budget also provides funding in 2023 to progress our plans for Senior Cycle reform, which is also rooted in student wellbeing and putting the student at the centre of the process.”
Minister Madigan said: “This Budget makes the biggest-ever commitment, in real, financial and percentage terms, to students with special educational needs and their families.
“At over €2.6 billion, this level of investment in special education is unprecedented, representing more than 27 per cent of the Department of Education’s total allocation for 2023.
“We are building on the progress already made on additional classes, teachers and supports. With an additional 686 teachers, and an additional 1,194 SNAs coming on stream in 2023, for the first time ever we will have over 19,000 teachers working in the area of special education and over 20,000 special needs assistants.
“Together we have almost 40,000 qualified and committed people in our schools who are focused wholly and exclusively on supporting children with special educational needs. The children will undoubtedly benefit, as is right and proper, from the additional focus these resources will bring to their education.
“I am delighted to announce additional psychology supports for special schools and special classes, and additional funding for the assistive technology scheme.
“I know from my ongoing engagement with parents and families of students with additional needs that they require support with the complex and challenging issues which they face daily. I am proud to announce a significant investment in the expansion of the National Council for Special Education, with a total full-year investment of €13 million, in over 160 additional staff.
This investment is being undertaken that the NSCE can respond effectively, compassionately and quickly to the increased need in our education system so that children and their families are fully supported and achieve the best possible education outcomes.
“This Budget demonstrates my determination to ensure the continuous development of special education provision, policy and resources for our children to allow them to achieve the best possible outcomes in their lives.”
Budget 2023 Key Education Measures
- In a ground-breaking new provision, new funding of €47 million will bring total investment in free school books at primary school level to over €50 million, which will significantly reduce the burden on families. This follows the free school book pilot scheme which has operated in 102 DEIS primary schools since September 2020 and is a commitment of the Programme for Government.
- Continuing to deliver on the commitments in the Programme for Government, funding will be provided to reduce class sizes by reducing the school staffing schedules by 1 point for all primary schools. The staffing schedule will now be 23:1 in mainstream schools, with lower rates applying in the 306 DEIS Urban band 1 schools. The 1 point improvement will also apply to the enhanced staffing schedule in place in the 306 DEIS Urban band 1 schools
- This is a further reduction on the already historically low level and the first time such a reduction has been made in three consecutive Budgets.
- As part of the Cost of Living measures to be enacted this year €90m is being provided in one-off additional funding to support increased running costs for primary and post-primary schools in the free education scheme in dealing with challenges they face in light of rising energy costs. This will be paid at a rate of 40% of schools’ basic and enhanced rates of capitation.
- For 2023, the special education budget will be substantially increased by almost ten per cent, with a total spend on supporting students with special educational needs of over €2.6 billion. There are extensive new measures to support students with special educational needs, with additional teaching, SNA and support resources, building on the exceptional work already undertaken in 2022 to ensure appropriate placement for children in mainstream classes, special classes and special schools.
- Other new measures include €8 million to address the impacts of Covid-19 and increase retention rates of students in schools, especially those from groups at risk of educational disadvantage. This will include a 5% increase in the funding for the School Completion Programme.
- An additional €20 million will be provided to maintain in 2023 the enhanced Summer Programme, established to provide additional supports for students at risk of educational disadvantage as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This will bring the total provision for the Summer Programme in 2023 to €40 million.
- The Department is due to publish the review of the Action Plan on Bullying and the updated Action Plan on Bullying in November; €1 million will be provided to undertake actions to prevent and tackle bullying in schools.
- Additional funding of €2 million will be provided in 2023, to progress work on the Senior Cycle reform programme. Additional funding of €11 million will be provided to maintain for 2023 the enhanced rate of payment to examiners in the State examinations as a result of Covid-19 measures.
Additional funding of €3 million in 2023 will be provided for social inclusion measures, including enhancing the capacity of the education welfare services in Tusla that are now under the remit of the Minister for Education.
Special Education Measures
Additional provision in Budget 2023 for measures supporting children with special educational needs includes:
- €12 million for additional teachers supporting students with special educational needs
- 686 new teacher posts, as follows:
- 206 of the new posts will provide additional support for children attending mainstream classes including new and expanding schools.
- 480 posts will facilitate the opening of a further 370 new special classes providing over 2,200 new places in 2023 and 250 new special school places
- 1,194 SNA posts covering primary and post-primary, as follows:
- 735 to support students in new special classes
- 124 to support students in new special school places
- 335 to support students in mainstream classes
As a result, the number of special classes will increase to 2,900 in schools throughout the country.
Further investment in special education will include:
- additional funding for the National Council for Special Education to enable it to provide additional support to students with special educational needs and their families. An additional 121 frontline and administrative posts to support families will be recruited. This commitment will rise to a €13 million investment in a full year.
- a further 40 new posts will be provided, for a new scheme to support Deaf and Hard of Hearing students for whom Irish Sign Language is their first language.
- the National Educational Psychological Service will receive funding for an additional 54 psychologists to provide services to special schools and special classes.
- an additional investment of €2 million will made in the assistive technology in education scheme, to meet the needs of students availing of this scheme.
Under Project Ireland 2040, the school sector will receive a total of approximately €4.4 billion capital investment over the period 2021-2025. This significant investment allows us to move forward with certainty on our ambitious plans and deliver high-quality building projects, with a real focus on sustainability, for school communities across Ireland.
Capital planning and budgeting is undertaken on a multi-annual basis. The allocation of €860 million for 2023 will facilitate a continued strong roll-out of school building projects.This includes the continued progression of the circa. 300 building projects that are currently at construction. The majority of these projects are expected to be completed in 2023. These projects include over 50 new school buildings and extensions at circa. 250 schools.
The continued roll-out of the National Development Plan will involve a further circa. 150 school building projects that are currently at advanced design or tender stage, commencing construction over the course of 2023. A strong focus of the school building programme is delivering additional capacity for special classes, particularly at post-primary level, and also for special schools
Cost of Living Measures
Once-off funding of €100 million is also being provided for 2022 as part of the cost of living measures to be enacted this year to ensure financial supports are available for:
- schools to meet the increased running costs for primary and post-primary schools in the free education system to deal with challenges they face in light of rising energy costs. This will be paid at a rate of approximately 40 per cent in their standard and enhanced rates of capitation funding.
- existing school transport providers to address the ongoing increased fuel costs.
Notes to Editors
Details of the key measures in the Department of Education budget are available here:https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/ce95b-main-features-of-budget-2023-education/
Pupil teacher ratio
The pupil teacher ratio calculates the number of pupils in a school as a ratio of the total number of teachers employed in the school, including class teachers and special education teachers
The annual staffing schedule determines the allocation of teachers to schools. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September.