Government Launches Action Plan for Education 2019: Cumasú – Empowering through Learning

20 March 2019 
  • More than 280 deliverable actions targeted for this year
  • Features languages, Deis schools, STEM, Irish-medium and school diversity
  • Commitment from Government for parents’ and students’ rights
  • Improving access to higher education for more people

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D. today (Thursday, 7 March) launched the Action Plan for Education 2019 in the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, with Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D., Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan T.D.

The Action Plan sets out more than 280 deliverable actions for this year with the ambition to continuously improve our education system.

Launching the Plan, An Taoiseach said: “Approximately one in four people in Ireland are students; children, teenagers, adults, people from all backgrounds. An investment in education is an investment in them, it’s an investment in the future and in all of us.”

It is Minister McHugh’s first Action Plan for Education, under the Department’s new Statement of Strategy 2019-21, which is also published today.

Minister McHugh said: “The Action Plan is underpinned by a drive to prepare people in a balanced way for life and work. It emphasises the need for young people and students to aim high and to fulfil their potential while developing the skills to think critically and to adapt and innovate with a resilience and wellbeing.”

Some of the actions that will be delivered this year include:

  • Implementing Languages Connect, Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026
  • Increasing the number of post-primary schools in the Foreign Language Assistants scheme and uptake of the Erasmus programme
  • Progressing implementation of the STEM Education Policy Statement 2017- 2026 and the Implementation Plan 2017-2019, including developing a work plan to increase the numbers of women participating in STEM
  • Launch a STEM advertising campaign aimed at pupils and students, teachers, school leaders and parents to promote and drive participation in STEM subjects

The Action Plan for Education 2019 builds on progress to date. It represents a bridge between continuity and change. Taking a collaborative, whole of system approach, it reflects commitments in relevant cross-governmental initiatives such as Future Jobs Ireland, the Action Plan for Rural Development and Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures – The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, 2014-2020.

An Taoiseach said: “This year the Government is spending €10.8 billion on education, the highest amount ever. In practical terms, that level of investment means new school buildings, extensions and refurbishments all over the country; the lowest ever pupil-teacher ratios in primary schools; more Special Needs Assistants than ever before and investment in new subjects, such as Computer Science and PE.

“We have taken a ‘Whole of Government’ approach with this Action Plan, because we recognise that education is the single best route to a better life. It is the great leveller and the great opportunity giver. Every euro we spend on it now delivers many multiples in benefits in the years to come.  So we want to plan ahead and get it right.”

Minister McHugh added: “I am committed to continuing with the reforms underway, in a carefully managed and paced way. I want to ensure that there is a logical sequence to what’s being implemented on the ground. 

“Education is key to helping people realise their full potential, to lead richer lives, and to help society develop. 2019 marks the third year in a row of a major reinvestment in the education sector. We are using that record investment to improve outcomes for young people and students, to break cycles of disadvantage, to support teachers and to ensure institutions continually improve. 

“We want to build better links between education and society. These outcomes can only be achieved through partnership.”

Other features of the Action Plan for Education include

  • Implementing the DEIS Plan in order to close the gap in performance between DEIS and non-DEIS schools, increase retention rates of DEIS students and increase the progression rates of DEIS students into Higher Education and Further Education and Training
  • Implementing the Teacher Supply Action Plan, including launching a Teacher Recruitment Portal to assist schools in recruiting for all teacher vacancies, including substitutes
  • Making progress towards increasing the diversity of school type in order to offer parents more choice, including by finalising protocols for the Implementation Phase of the Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity process and assessing the demand for increased provision for Irish-medium schools
  • Introducing a stronger complaints procedure and charter for parents and students
  • Strengthening the apprenticeship and traineeship systems by enhancing the range of courses and increasing student places
  • Set up a new online marketplace for apprenticeship opportunities
  • Implement strands of the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2021 and oversee delivery of targets for Institutes of Technology, Technological Universities, colleges and universities so that Higher Education becomes more representative 

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “Project Ireland 2040 clearly highlights the role of the higher education sector as a driver of social and economic growth, including at regional level. The National Development Plan 2018-2027 provides public investment in higher education infrastructure of €2.2bn over the decade. The investment will support the capacity expansion required to cater for a projected increase of some 40,000 enrolments and the infrastructure in our higher education institutions.

“The fundamental principles underlying the Action Plan resonates strongly with me, as it has at its core the individual learner in education. We must never lose sight of the fact that it is the person that the whole system is intended to serve.

“The initiatives contained within the Action Plan will support the higher education sector to continue to make the changes so that it can truly reflect society as a whole.There will be specific targeted measures to increase the participation rates of under-represented groups such as a new plan for increasing Traveller participation in higher education and an increased focus on supporting the participation of lone parents. Similarly, we will be working to improve gender balance amongst staff in higher education institutes with our Senior Academic Leadership Initiative.”

Minister Halligan said: “This year, we will be placing a particular focus on improving life-long learning, by looking at new and exciting ways to encourage people to upskill and engage with the many options available. Linked to that, we are working to improve the impact of further education and training programmes, looking at research opportunities and strengthening the apprenticeship and traineeship systems.

“We are working to make our education and training system more flexible, innovative and responsive over the entire course of a person’s life. We are moving away from the traditional learning routes and adapting more to what is required in society, today and into the future.” 

Action Plan for Education 2019: Cumasú – Empowering through Learning document is available at the following link :

Action Plan for Education 2019 

Statement of Strategy 2019 – 2021 document is available at the following link :

Action Plan for Education Statement of Strategy 2019-2021