Improving the quality of Ireland’s education and training system is central to the Government’s commitment in the Programme for Government to build a knowledge society and drive sustainable economic growth.
International benchmarks show that, while Ireland performs well in some areas, it can do better. There is also a significant challenge, at a time of reducing financial resources, in meeting the needs of an increasing population. Enrolments in schools and at third level have risen substantially in recent years and, according to demographic projections, will continue to rise between now and 2024.
An extensive programme of reform, including the most comprehensive programme of legislative reform in over a decade, is underway across the sector, concentrated on four key themes:[i] Learning for life:
to provide all learners with the knowledge and skills they need to participate fully in society and the economy by means of a system of education and training that enables learners to learn how to learn;[ii] Improving quality and accountability:
to deliver high quality education and training experiences for everyone and improve accountability for educational outcomes across the system including reporting to parents and the school community;[iii] Supporting inclusion and diversity:
to welcome and meaningfully include learners with disabilities and special educational needs and those with language, cultural and social differences and support disadvantaged learners; and[iv] Building the right systems and infrastructure:
to make the best use of available resources to create a modern, flexible education and training system. This means ensuring there are sufficient school places as the school-going population increases, implementing structural and legislative reform to support effective service delivery and making the best use of technology to deliver efficient and effective services.
The key priorities for improved service delivery and sectoral reform in the short to medium term are:[i] Literacy and numeracy:
increasing the time spent on reading, writing and mathematics in primary schools, changing the school curriculum and changing how teachers are trained to achieve the 2020 improvement targets contained in the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy