Funding Key to Delivering on Ambitious Action Plan on Education
Barnardos welcomed the Government’s Action Plan on Education today but cautioned that increased funding will be key in delivering on its ambitious targets.
June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos, said, “We welcome the Plan launched by Minister Bruton today. In particular we welcome the Minister’s commitment to reducing inequalities throughout the education system which for too long have seen children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds left behind. However, it doesn’t go far enough in tackling the high costs associated with our ‘free’ school system.
“We see first-hand the impact poverty and delays in accessing educational supports can have on a child’s educational outcomes; the negative affects begin early and can last a lifetime. We hope the measures, such as establishing a new Inclusion Support Service to improve co-ordination across various services for children with special educational needs and a targeted approach to increasing participation in third level education by people experiencing disadvantage, will achieve meaningful change for children and young people experiencing disadvantage.”
Barnardos supports the Government's move towards greater focus on children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing with the planned increased roll out of Incredible Years and Friends for Life programmes in DEIS schools.
However, while the Plan contains some measures to assist parents struggling with the cost of sending their child to school, such as legislating for a Parents and Learner Charter, Barnardos believes this is one area where the Government should be more ambitious.
Ms Tinsley said “We’re pleased to see Government plans to restore the capitation grant by 2019; however this is just one in a suite of measures Barnardos proposed to Government to help make school affordable for all families. Increasing funding for school book rental schemes is another area we feel the Government should go further. It would cost just €40 million to give every child in Ireland free school books, giving them equitable access to an education support which has long been enjoyed by our neighbours in Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Ms Tinsley added “It is good to see clear targets and timelines to monitor implementation contained in the Plan; however a crucial component for delivery is sufficient funding. It is not enough to simply shift the deck chairs, taking funding from one area of education to give to another. Increasing resources to the education sector will be key and not possible without some tough political decisions in relation to the ratio of tax cuts to spending to be announced in the upcoming Budget.”