13th October 2021
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) has analysed the education commitments in Budget 2022. Members will find below a general overview based on the information made available to the union today.
On behalf of the union, INTO President Joe McKeown wishes to commend the incredible efforts of so many grassroots members, particularly our dedicated lobbyists, for once again delivering a high-impact budget campaign that put education issues front and centre.
The budget has acceded to the INTO’s campaign to continue to reduce our supersized class sizes at primary level.
The Department of Education has confirmed a further reduction in the primary staffing schedule by one point. This is the second year in a row that the INTO budget lobbying campaign has delivered class-size reductions.
The Department has clarified that the one-point reduction will also be applied to all primary schools in the DEIS scheme. 350 mainstream teachers will be appointed to support this measure.
It is critical that throughout the lifetime of this government, annual class size reductions are implemented to bring Ireland’s average class sizes in line with EU norms.
During the pandemic, the INTO negotiated one leadership and management day (release day) for every teaching principal. The INTO budget campaign has ensured that these essential release days will be maintained. The union is determined to ensure that this essential resource is continued on a permanent basis.
The union strongly encourages groups of five local schools to cluster together and to appoint fixed-term teachers to service their principal release days.
Administrative principal in special schools/small schools with two or more special classes
It has been confirmed that 36 schools with a teaching principal that have two or more special classes in 2021/22 along with four special schools with teaching principals will be provided with an administrative principal. The INTO made direct representations to Ministers Foley and Madigan on this issue.
Posts of Responsibility
INTO is disappointed that the government has failed to recognise our legitimate demand for the restoration of middle-management posts to support school leadership. The full restoration of middle-management structures remains a key objective for the union.
INTO understands that 980 new special-education teaching posts will be provided in the forthcoming year. 620 of these new posts will provide additional support for children in mainstream classes, an additional 287 posts will be used to open new special classes and 73 posts will go to provide new special school spaces.
As outlined above, 40 additional administrative principals will be appointed to support special-education settings.
An additional 1,165 special needs assistants (SNAs) will be allocated in 2022 (574 for new special classes, 46 for special schools and 545 for mainstream classes).
INTO warmly welcomes these additional resources, which are necessary to support the inclusion of children with special-education needs and deliver a fully inclusive primary education system.
INTO welcomes the additional €18million (€32 million in a full year) in funding to support the extension of the DEIS programme to additional schools, which the union has been calling for over a number of years. INTO expects to have further engagement with the Department of Education on the components of the new model prior to its application.
The department clarified that the benefits of participation in the DEIS scheme may include DEIS grant funding, home school community liaison co-ordinators and access to the school completion programme for the 2022/23 school year.
INTO understands that 420 additional posts will be granted to DEIS schools, following the inclusion of more primary and post-primary schools in the scheme.
Budget 2022 also set aside €3 million to pay for the expansion of the Hot Meals Scheme to an additional 81 DEIS schools, with funding to be made available from January 2022. INTO called for this expansion in our recent DEIS campaign and warmly welcomes the additional funding being provided.
The union repeatedly highlighted and called out the lack of investment in ICT at primary, which led to a significant digital divide during the pandemic.
INTO understands that €50 million in ICT funding will be made available to schools for 2022. This additional grant will be paid in early December 2021.
As indicated earlier in the year, a further €52 million in funding has been agreed under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) which will fund targeted interventions to provide access to high-speed broadband and interventions to address the digital divide. INTO understands that this funding is a direct response to the unions demand that high-speed broadband be provided to all primary schools.
Details of this funding scheme are still in development and further information is expected to be made available shortly. Funding arising from this scheme is expected to be made available to schools in the current year.
Summer Works Scheme
An additional €30 million (on top of the standard €35 million) for primary and post-primary has been allocated for the enhanced rollout of projects under the 2022 Summer Works Scheme. Details of the projects to be covered at primary level will be announced early in December 2021, which the union welcomes as this facilitates better planning of projects on the ground.
School building projects
As set out in the National Development Plan (NDP), there are currently 1,200 school building projects currently in progress, with the plan seeking to deliver between 150 and 200 school building projects per year in the coming years. 200 school building projects are currently at construction stage and due to be completed in 2022. €792 million in funding will facilitate the funding of these projects and other measures as set out above.
Reading and literacy support
The Department of Education have set aside €20 million for the provision of books, audio books and other reading materials. The grant, which will be provided to primary and post-primary schools, will be provided to schools next year. Further information on applying for this grant will be made available in due course.
INTO understands that €87million in COVID-19 funding will be provided to schools for 2022. In addition, a central contingency reserve has been established centrally within government which is to be used for any additional funding required during the forthcoming year, as a result of public-health advice.
The union is disappointed that the capitation grant of €1 per pupil per day will not be increased in 2022, at a time when school running costs such as energy bills continue to rise.
Since July 2020, the INTO has negotiated 132 substitute supply panels, employing 380 fixed-term teachers and covering in excess of 2,500 primary and special schools. Despite the expansion of this scheme, many schools continue to struggle to cover substitutable absences. The union is seeking a meeting with the Department of Education with a view to addressing the substitution crisis. The union remains determined to see all schools included within the supply-panel scheme and to ensure that each designated supply panel area is adequately resourced. Every child deserves to be taught by a fully-qualified teacher each and every single day.
The Department of Education has allocated €30million to both primary and post-primary schools to increase investment in the school transport scheme. Further information to follow.