Doherty goes back to school with Taoiseach

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, and the Minister for Employment and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, today visited Stanhope Primary School in Dublin to meet with students, parents and teachers returning on their first day back at school. 

Education is a huge focus for Ireland as a country. Over one million people – more than one in four of our citizens – are involved in our education system.

The government’s ambition is to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade. In Budget 2017, Minister Bruton secured €458m which has allowed the government to start an ambitious programme of reinvestment in education. 

At Stanhope Street Primary School, significant new investment in education commencing this September was highlighted, including:

•    Over 2,800 extra teachers (over 400 more than was previously announced), including 900 extra resource teachers and 100 extra guidance posts 
•    Support for children with special educational needs with over 1,000 newly created SNA positions, as well as the 900 extra resource teachers 
•    Almost 110 schools getting extra help to tackle educational disadvantage
•    25 new schools and 20 major school extensions completed since January 
•    25% increase in Back To School Clothing and Footwear Allowance
•    €4m recently announced for after-school childcare providers to create new places and improve quality of existing places for children. 
•    95% of the children starting school this September will have completed Government’s free preschool programme (ECCE), which has helped them be ready for school. 

As he visited Stanhope Primary School, An Taoiseach said:  "Today is a big day in Ireland when over one million people head to classrooms across the country. To all those involved – students, parents, teachers, volunteers, everyone – I want to thank you for the contribution you've making in Educating our young people and for doing it with such passion and diligence. So much of the Government support, over 11% of our total spending every year, is dedicated to pre-school, primary and second level education and rightly so. I want to wish everyone good luck as they start this school year.”

Minister Bruton said: “The basic aim of this Government is to sustain our economic progress and use it to build a fair and compassionate society. No area is more important to this vision than education. 

“A lot of the measures in the education budget kick in this week. Through the Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade, we are investing in our schools with over 2,800 extra teachers and over 1,000 extra SNAs starting school this week. 

“We are lucky in Ireland to have such a dedicated and committed teaching profession. Our teachers and school leaders will continue to play a pivotal role in helping children to achieve their potential. We have to support our teachers and school leaders, through up-skilling, mentoring and coaching, so they support our children to fulfil their potential.” 

Minister Doherty said: “This year’s increase – of 25% - in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance will make a real difference in helping families get ready for another school year. The increase from €100 to €125 for children aged 4 to 11 and from €200 to €250 for children aged 12 years helps families most in need and our investment of over €47.4m on the allowance for 2017 demonstrates a clear commitment to supporting children and families at this expensive time of year.
“Similarly, my Department has increased the funding for the School Meals Programme by €5.5 million this year which will benefit over 250,000 children in the coming school year – this number continues to grow as more and more schools sign up for the School Meals Programme. This is an important Programme which helps encourage better school attendance and educational achievement by children, especially those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.”