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(Ireland) Ed budget: Over 25% is for special ed; minister 'delighted'

Oct 14, 2021, Ministers Foley and Madigan announce details of €9.2 billion [$14B] education funding in Budget 2022, including measures to tackle disadvantage and support children with special educational needs

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD today 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. Minster Foley said: “These investment measures under Budget 2022 will be hugely important in tackling disadvantage and supporting children and young people with special educational needs in our education system. During the last two years, the central importance of schools and education in the lives of our children and young people has been understood across society in a renewed way. We have a deeper appreciation than ever how important the chances that we provide to children and young people are, and how essential a good school experience is, for their present as well as their future. “I am very proud to have secured the largest-ever package since the commencement of the DEIS programme aimed at tackling educational disadvantage. The investment of an additional €18 million [$27M] in 2022 will enable us to expand the programme to provide enhanced supports to more schools, benefiting more children and young people…. “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….


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