• Over 2,800 new teachers and special needs assistants are provided for
• Largest-ever expansion of DEIS programme to tackle disadvantage
• Historically low 24:1 staffing schedule at primary level
Minister for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD has announced details of how Budget 2022 increases core investment in the school system by half a billion euro to €9.2 billion.
Budget 2022 progresses the ongoing major investment in our primary and post-primary education system. The significant increased investment reflects the Government’s commitment to support the educational success of each learner and provide a quality inclusive school system with improved learning outcomes for all.
Under the largest-ever increase in funding for the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) programme, there is an additional allocation of €18 million (full year allocation of €32 million) which will enable an expansion in 2022 of the programme to further schools. This programme provides additional teaching and other support resources to schools, aimed at tackling educational disadvantage.
This will result in an increase of over 20 per cent in funding for the DEIS programme. In addition, a further one-point improvement in the staffing schedule for DEIS Urban Band 1 schools will bring the total allocation for tackling educational disadvantage in 2023 to €180 million.
Continuing to deliver on the Commitment in the Programme for Government, funding will be provided for an additional 350 teachers (inclusive of DEIS staffing improvement), to reduce school staffing schedules by 1 point for all primary schools.
An additional 980 special education teachers will be provided, working in special classes, special schools and mainstream settings, to support children with special educational needs.
Funding is provided for 1,165 additional special needs assistants to provide support to children with special educational needs, bringing the total number of SNAs to almost 19,200.
Minister Madigan said:
“As Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, I am delighted that we could secure the largest budget for special education that we have ever had. This will include an unprecedented 1165 new SNAs, bringing the total number of SNAs in Ireland to a record of over 19,000.
“We are also adding almost 1,000 new teachers in special education in mainstream schools, special classes and special schools.
“As well as this, we are adding a number of targeted measures to support inclusion in education and measures to support the opening of additional special class places. We have made big progress to date and I am determined to continue this progress. With the funding I have secured in this year’s Budget we can provide over 1,700 new special class places next year. We are also providing administrative principals to schools that currently have teaching principals and two or more special classes.
“Over recent months I have visited schools across the country, met with staff and students, and heard their needs. The special education funding for 2022 is over a quarter of the current expenditure budget for the Department of Education. This represents an increase of over 50 per cent since 2011. We know that it has been a difficult few years for people, especially in our education system, and we want to make sure that people have the support they need as we go forward. I am delighted that we could secure this investment for some of the most vulnerable groups in society and I will continue to advocate on their behalf.”
Additional provision in Budget 2022 for measures supporting children with special educational needs includes:
• 980 new teacher posts, as follows:
o 620 of the new posts will provide additional support for children attending mainstream classes including new and expanding schools.
o 360 posts will facilitate the opening of 287 new special classes providing over 1,700 new places in 2022 and 140 new special school places
• 1,165 SNA posts covering primary and post-primary, as follows:
o 574 to support students in new special classes
o 46 to support students in new special school places
o 545 to support students in mainstream classes
As a result, the number of special classes will be the highest ever, at just over 2,400 in schools throughout the country.
• Resources have been secured to increase management supports for special schools and schools with special classes. Schools that have a teaching principal, and that have opened two or more special classes, or special schools with teaching principals, will now be eligible for an administrative principal.
Supports for Reading and Literacy
• Once-off funding of €20 million will be provided for books, audio books and other reading materials to increase the literacy tools and supports available to children in schools. This grant funding will be provided to schools in 2022.
Primary School Staffing Schedule
• Building on progress in recent years, this Budget has further reduced the primary staffing schedule by one point, bringing it to an unprecedented low level of 24:1 in primary schools. A lower rate applies in DEIS primary schools, where a reduction of one point will also be applied. An additional 350 teachers will be appointed to support these measures.
Voluntary Secondary School Capitation
• Additional capitation funding is being allocated to voluntary secondary schools in the free education scheme, to rectify historical inconsistencies in capitation funding at post-primary level.
Guidance Supports and Release Days
• Additional guidance teacher supports and release days for school leaders will be maintained.
• €30 million will be allocated to increase investment in the school transport scheme.
• Under Project Ireland 2040, the education 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 €792m for 2022 will facilitate a continued strong rollout of school building projects and other measures as outlined below.
• A further €52m funding sanctioned under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) will facilitate two projects in the education sector with an overall investment of €63.5m for 2021 and 2022 with €52.3m required in 2021. In 2021, NRRP funding of €50m will issue to schools to support their learners who are most at risk of educational disadvantage through lack of access to appropriate digital infrastructure thereby addressing the digital divide. Details for the scheme are in development and the aim is to issue this funding in the current year. The remainder of this funding will underpin a project to provide high speed broadband to primary schools not covered by the National Broadband Plan or by commercial provision. The project is underway and scheduled to be completed by end 2022.
• A €20 million grant for literacy resources will be paid to schools in 2022.
• An additional €30m will be allocated for an enhanced rollout of projects under the 2022 Summer Works scheme. This additional funding on top of the standard €35m programme will facilitate an overall €65m programme of summer works scheme. The details on these projects will be announced in early December 2021 to provide schools with a good lead in period for delivering the projects in summer 2022.