CORK-based Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has said that the Action Plan for Education 2017 is going to promote wellbeing in schools as well as tackling educational disadvantage across Cork.
“The Action Plan for Education initiated by my Fine Gael colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, is designed to ensure that Ireland has the best education service in Europe within the decade.
“The 2017 version of the Action Plan contains over 400 actions and sub actions, with a strong focus on helping children who may be vulnerable or experiencing disadvantage.
“For example, the 2017 Plan is going to improve the lives of children all over Cork by promoting wellbeing in schools. Every school will be required to have dedicated guidance counselling time available for students and we are appointing an additional 10 NEPs psychologists across the country.
“Schools will also have to establish a wellbeing steering committee to develop a policy statement in this area and identify gaps in existing services.
“Every school will be required to implement the Junior Cycle Wellbeing programme which contains guidelines for making wellbeing a whole school endeavour.
“Minister Bruton has announced that he is very shortly going to publish a Plan for future supports to tackle educational disadvantage. This will build on existing DEIS supports, with new schools being phased into DEIS from next September.
“In the area of Special Educational Needs, we are introducing a new model for the allocation of teachers in mainstream schools to support children, we are establishing a new Inclusion Support Service for schools and we will complete a comprehensive assessment of the Special Needs Assistants (SNA) scheme.
“The 2017 Action Plan for Education also contains lots of great initiatives to equip Cork children for the world we live in today and for the future workforce. This includes a real focus on technology and skills in education.
“For example the implementation of computer science as a Leaving Cert subject is being brought forward 12 months to September 2018 and we are developing a curriculum for computational thinking and coding at primary level.
“Thirteen new apprenticeships and two new traineeships are being developed in 2017 and there is going to be a review of work experience at post-primary level. A new foreign language strategy will also help equip our young people for the modern workforce.
“Our time in Government shows that Fine Gael has a strong record on protecting and promoting the rights of children. Achieving excellence in education is a key part of that. Budget 2017 secured an extra €458 million in funding for education, making it the third highest education budget in history.
“This marked the start of a major programme of reinvestment in education, from which children all across Cork will benefit. The 2017 Action Plan for Education is an important step on the road to ensuring Ireland has the best education system in Europe,” he said.