With Budget 2024 released earlier this week, it has seen the largest funding in history being allocated to education, with an unprecedented €10.5bn investment in Ireland's primary and post-primary education systems.

One of the welcomed changes is the extension of the free books scheme to include junior cycle students at the post-primary level.

This year’s budget introduces measures that will break down barriers and enhance student’s experience in school.

The key features include:

  • €67m funding for free schoolbooks and classroom resources for junior cycle students.
  • €20m to assist schools now and in the longer term with increased day-to-day running costs.
  • €60m in cost of living supports, which will be paid to all primary and post-primary schools in the free scheme.
  • €92m in funding for the School Transport Scheme.
  • €82m for an additional 1,216 special needs assistants and 744 special educational needs teachers in classrooms.
  • €20m in funding for the enhanced summer programme.
  • Additional allocation for curricular reforms.
  • Provision made for the pilot counselling services to continue for another year.
  • Actions to address teacher supply issues through an incentive scheme to partially refund future professional masters in education fees and additional upskilling teacher programmes for in-demand subjects.
  • Additional posts of responsibility allocated to assist the leadership and management in schools.
  • €940m for the addition of essential capacity in schools through building new schools and the rollout of additional accommodation in existing schools.
  • Living expenses

    Other funding has been given to increase the minimum wage by €1.40 per hour making it €12.70 per hour from 1 January 2024. The rent tax credit has also increased from €500 to €750 for private renters.

    The extension of child benefit to cover 18-year -olds in full-time education will also provide parents of students in this age group who are still in education extra financial support.

    Reducing education costs for families

    Announcing the details of the specific investment in education and schools in Budget 2024, Minister for Education Norma Foley TD said these supports will ensure inclusive education for all school communities.

    “The funding will ensure continued reduced costs for families; it will continue to tackle disadvantage and it will provide further supports to safeguard inclusive education for all school communities,” said Minister Foley.

    She believes a rise in the cost of living should never be a barrier to pupils' and students’ experience of school.

    “This year, for the first time ever, families of primary school children benefitted from our landmark free schoolbooks and classroom resources scheme,” emphasised Minister Foley.

    The additional targeted funding allocated to social inclusion and educational support will help in facilitating high-quality and inclusive school and education systems to ultimately promote improved learning outcomes for pupils and students.

    For full details of the key education features of Budget 2024, see here.

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