Government Launches Action Plan for Education 2017

6th February 2017 - Richard Bruton TD

Hundreds of Actions to be delivered with a focus on Skills, Technology, Wellbeing and tackling disadvantage

Over 400 actions and sub actions in Plan led by Minister Bruton

The Government today (Monday 6th February) published the Action Plan for Education 2017, led by Minister Richard Bruton, aimed at making Ireland’s education and training system the best in Europe within a decade.

Education is central to all our ambitions as a nation. It supports the development of a strong growing economy while sustaining a fair and compassionate society.

The Action Plan for Education outlines hundreds of actions and sub-actions to be implemented in 2017 by the Department, its agencies and others across government. Timelines and lead responsibility have been assigned.

When the Minister launched the three year Action Plan for Education in September, he set out that it would be an annual process which underpins the goals of the plan with concrete actions to be delivered each year according to strict timelines. The 2017 Plan contains over 400 actions and sub actions.

Among the headline actions announced as part of today’s 2017 plan are:

 ·        Wellbeing: Every school will be required to have dedicated guidance counselling time available for students; implement Junior Cycle Wellbeing programme; appoint an additional 10 NEPs psychologists and establish a wellbeing steering committee to develop policy statement and identify gaps in existing services.

·        Technology in education: Implementation of computer science leaving cert subject brought forward 12 months to September 2018; development of computational thinking andcodingthrough new maths curriculum at primary; new advisory group led by industry and experts to develop new plans for greater use of technology in education

·        Disadvantage: Shortly publish our Plan for future supports to tackle educational disadvantage, building on existing DEIS supports, with new schools being phased into DEIS from next September; develop a School Excellence Fund and commence pilot, initially in DEIS schools

·        Skills: Develop 13 new apprenticeships and 2 new traineeships in 2017; review work experience at post primary; develop innovative responses to address skills shortages in ICT languages and biopharma; hold quarterly meetings between education and enterprise

·        Research: New initiatives to attract world-leading researchers to Ireland, particularly in the context of Brexit

·        Costs: Publish a strong circular with an emphasis on reducing costs to parents, including school uniform costs

·        After school care provision: Publish guidelines for the use of school buildings out of hours, following engagement with property owners and school authorities (e.g. to provide afterschool care provision for school age children to offer more options and flexibility to parents)

·        Languages: New foreign languages strategy to outline new languages options and ambitious targets; consideration to be given to greater use of “CLIL”, or teaching of mainstream subjects through second and third languages, as means of teaching Irish and other languages in a more effective way at primary and secondary

·        Gaeltacht: Implement the Gaeltacht Education Strategy, and publish arrangements for Gaeltacht school recognition process

·        Infrastructure: Complete 46 large-scale building projects; provide 6,000 additional permanent post primary places in 2017

·        Special Educational Needs: Introduce the new model for allocation of teachers in mainstream schools to support children with SEN; establish a new Inclusion Support Service;  complete a comprehensive assessment of the Special Needs Assistants (SNA) scheme

·        Third level: New higher education funding model (RGAM) to be in place for 2018 budget; publish policy review to design and implement a multi-annual funding model involving increased Exchequer and employer contributions from 2018; finalise drafting of Higher Education Reform Bill

An Taoiseach Said:

“The Government has high aspirations for our citizens and recognises the important role that education plays in providing opportunities for everyone to reach their potential.”

“Education is a powerful instrument of social cohesion. It instils in each generation the deep-rooted values of the Irish people and impacts on social inclusion. It allows people to be independent, fulfilled, and to achieve their own dreams, whatever they might be.”

“Building on the Action Plan for Education 2016- 2019, the 2017 Plan shows great vision in working towards our overall ambition to have the best education and training service in Europe by 2026.”

Minister Bruton said:

“Education is central to all our ambitions as a nation. It is central to our economic, scientific, cultural and social ambitions. Education supports the development of a strong growing economy while sustaining a fair and compassionate society.”

“In this plan, we set out the actions that we will take in 2017 as we work towards making the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade. The cumulative impact of the implementation of the hundreds of actions and sub actions in the Action Plan will have a lasting and positive impact on the Irish education and training sector.”

“We are fortunate in Ireland to have so many dedicated and committed teachers. Through the Action Plan for Education we will support teachers with more promotional opportunities, more re-skilling opportunities. Coaching, mentoring and a post graduate qualification in School Leadership will all be introduced.

“To sustain our growing economy, we have to identify and meet the skills needs of enterprise in critical areas. Successful engagement with enterprise will drive the growth of traineeships and apprenticeships, and ensure the relevance of work based learning

“Budget 2017 secured an extra €458 million (5.1%) in  funding for education to bring the total gross 2107 budget to 9.53 billion euro (its third highest level in history) and marking the start of a major programme of reinvestment in education, an important step on the road to becoming the best education system in Europe.”

Consultation with stakeholders was an important part of the development of Action Plan for Education 2017. Consultation activity included an on line call for submissions, input from other Departments, regional fora, thematic workshops and other meetings with key stakeholders.

Minister Halligan said:

‘I’m delighted to see the research-specific actions in the Plan. Brexit presents us with a unique opportunity in that regard and we will seek to position Ireland to benefit from this.

The importance of entrepreneurship and innovation are also recognised and I’m confident that during 2017, we will make significant advances in that regard.’

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