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Minister Ruairi Quinn TD Minister for Education
LABOUR’S VISION FOR EDUCATION Education is the path to equality and prosperity in Irish society. Labour is making a radical difference to the life outcomes of thousands of children. But Labour knows that talent, creativity and intelligence is spread across our entire population. Education is the golden key which will unlock that creativity, empower it with knowledge and transform our society into the future. That is why, Labour in Government, has protected expenditure into Education so as to maintain quality education for all. Labour’s radical reform programme in primary, post primary and third level is transforming Irish education. Equality of access, excellence of delivery, and innovation in communications have come together to begin to give Ireland a truly world class education system.
PATRONAGE AND PLURALISM - PRIMARY One of my major priorities following my appointment as Minister was to establish the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector. The Forum is a key commitment in the Programme for Government and something that many stakeholders in the education sector had sought for many years. Ireland has changed both demographically and socially. We have now a much more diverse population and pluralist society than we had even two decades ago. In addition, many people’s views about the place of religion in society and in their own lives have undergone profound change. The Action Plan published in response to the Forum on Patronage is being implemented. A historic initiative to consult directly with parents about how all children can be made to feel included and involved in their local primary school has been launched. This will ensure greater parental choice of school type and patronage in primary education – an option which is long overdue.
SCHOOL UNIFORMS I have moved to tackle the cost of school uniforms by strengthening the role of parents in how schools decide their policies on uniforms. Specifically I want all schools that currently operate a uniform policy, or contemplate introducing one, to ballot parents during the current school year before deciding on the policy to be adopted for the 2014/15 school year.
TACKLING BACK TO SCHOOL COSTS Each year, €15 million is provided to schools to invest in school books. We believe that schools should use this funding to establish book rental schemes, and reduce the costs to parents. This funding has been safeguarded since Labour entered Government, and is protected again in Budget 2014. A further €5 million for each of the next three years will now be invested in ensuring that book rental schemes are available in every primary school in Ireland. This additional funding will allow for a grant of €100 per child in each school which is not currently operating a book rental scheme (€150 per child in DEIS schools) over the next three years.
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SOLAS ESTABLISHED The creation of SOLAS marks another major milestone in delivering this Government’s ambitious educational reform programme and its commencement brings about the dissolution of FÁS. One of its first tasks will be to devise a strategy for the development of a unified further education and training sector so that we can respond more effectively to the needs of those who require up-skilling and those seeking employment At such a critical time in the recovery of our economy, it is vital that we have an agency that engenders public confidence and addresses skills gaps in our labour force.
33 VECS – NOW 16 LOCAL ETBS 16 new Education and Training Boards (ETBs) replaced the 33 Vocational Education Committees (VECs) on the 1st July 2013. It marks a new era for education and training in Ireland. The new ETBs will strengthen locally managed education and enhance the scale of local education and training. This represents a major component of the public service transformation agenda. At a time when the need for training and reskilling has never been more important, it is crucial to provide appropriate programmes and courses that offer students and learners the best opportunities to progress. We must do all of this while providing value for money to the taxpayer.
LITERACY AND NUMERACY Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life, the National Strategy to improve literacy and numeracy among children and young people is continuing. It is the government's belief that no child should leave school unable to read and write and use mathematics to solve problems.The Strategy sets out a wide-ranging programme of reforms in initial teacher education courses, in professional development for teachers and school principals, and in the content of the curriculum at primary and post-primary levels in order to achieve these vital skills.
Ruairi Quinn TD
Department of Education and Skills Marlborough Street, Dublin 1
Phone: 01 618 3434 Email: email@example.com Web: www.ruairiquinn.ie