New Action Plan for Education will make Irish education the best in Europe

The launch of the Government’s Action Plan for Education gives us real hope for the future of education in this country. This plan contains hundreds of actions to be implemented between now and 2026, with particular focus on disadvantage, skills, and continuous improvement within Irish education.

 

We saw what a success Minister Richard Bruton made of the Action Plan for Jobs, with clear targets and goals leading to the creation of 190,000 jobs and a reduction in unemployment from 15.1% at its height, down to the current rate of 8.3%. Now, as Minister for Education, his new Action Plan aims to make Irish education the best in Europe, within the next decade.

 

A key goal of the plan is breaking the cycle of disadvantage experienced by many young people. We will publish a new ambitious DEIS plan by the end of 2016 which will set out new goals for DEIS schools including: hitting the national average for school retention levels within the next decade, (an increase of at least 9%); a 30% increase in the number of students from disadvantaged areas attending higher level; a five-fold increase in the reach of the Incredible Years teacher programme for DEIS schools; and a six-fold increase in the reach of the Friends programme, aimed at supporting children in difficulty.

 

A new Inclusion Support Service will bring together various services to better support children with special educational needs.

 

In this Plan, there is a particular focus on equipping our young people for the future workforce. This means a focus on skills and the provision of greater subject choice for students. A total of 100 apprenticeship schemes and 50 traineeship schemes will deliver 50,000 registrations between now and 2020. We will also develop a 25% increase in access to work experience at higher level; a 25% increase in flexible learning; and an entrepreneurship education plan. We will roll out coding as a subject primary schools from 2018, computer science will be a Leaving Certificate subject, new languages such as Mandarin will be available at second level and we will enhance teaching of languages at third level.

 

Supporting teachers is an important part of this Plan, with over 366,000 hours of continuous professional development for teachers by 2017 (a 4.5% increase on 2016); a new centre of excellence, integrating existing supports, to support in-school improvement and peer exchange; and a school excellence fund to support innovation. There will also be better mentoring for school principals, and a postgraduate qualification for aspiring school principals.

 

I am pleased to see that there will be comprehensive monitoring of this plan. The Government will publish an updated annual Action Plan for Education at the beginning of each year, which will contain further actions to be implemented in that particular year. Publication of quarterly implementation reports and continuous consultation with stakeholders and members of the Oireachtas will also be central to the process. I will be monitoring this plan closely to ensure that it delivers for Cavan Monaghan.

 

Fine Gael is ensuring that we protect our economy, and use our economic progress to improve people’s lives. I can think of no better way to do this than investing in education, ensuring equality of opportunity and a brighter future for all our young people.

 

 

Senator Joe O’Reilly is a Fine Gael Senator for Cavan/Monaghan

Senator Joe O'Reilly representing Cavan & Monaghan 2010. | An ExSite website