The Labour Party has today published plans to invest in education and reduce costs for parents, with a focus on making primary school education genuinely free-of-charge.
We want to ensure that every child gets a fair start in life when it comes to schooling, and we will allocate an extra €140m to Education in 2021 for new policy proposals above the additional allocations it will receive for demographics and capital investment. Our plan would then add a further €140 million year-on-year to fund new measures over the lifetime of the next Government. Our proposals will radically transform our education system and provide the funding that schools have been starved of.
Many parents are really struggling with school costs, particularly as their children move through the school system and into secondary school. That’s why we want to reduce costs for parents. The most recent Barnardos survey showed that 42% of primary school parents and 47% of secondary parents are actually cutting back on paying bills in order to meet back to school costs.
Labour will make primary education genuinely free-of-charge by having the State provide free schoolbook, a uniform grant and healthy school meals, and we’ll set out a strategy so that cost never stops a person fulfilling their potential through lifelong education.
Despite improvements, class sizes are still too big, and we will reduce primary class sizes to the EU average by 2025. The next Census in 2021 will provide important demographic information for future resource planning in our education system but what we will do is reduce class sizes.
If we want to have the best education system possible for our children, we have to value our teachers and administrators properly. Labour will address pay inequality for recent new entrants, and end the two tier system for school secretaries and caretakers.
We will also reduce DEIS class sizes and increase capitation grants to DEIS schools, as well as expand the provision of Special Needs Assistants in schools.
When it comes to Third Level, Labour wants a publicly funded system and we want to use the National Training Fund alongside direct Exchequer support to achieve that. We will also reduce costs for parents and students with a pathway to progressively and sustainably reduce third level student contribution fees, and improvements to the SUSI grant.
Labour believes that apprenticeships and traineeships should be as valuable as going to college, and we’ll expand the number and types of these schemes that are available.
You can read our full Education proposals here.