The Government will provide free schoolbooks to all primary school children from next September as part of Budget 2023.

The free books measure is expected to benefit more than half a million children.

The primary school pupil-teacher ratio has been reduced by one point to 23:1. This will be the third such reduction in as many years.

There will be 686 additional posts created for special education teachers, as well as 1,094 additional SNA posts.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, said the €9.6 billion he is allocating to the Department of Education in 2023 includes a capital budget of €860 million.

He said this will support the continued progression of around 300 building projects that are currently under construction.

Funding will also be provided for the continuation of the Enhanced Summer Programme for a further year, as well as other wellbeing and inclusion supports.

Class sizes and core funding still to be addressed

Both second level teacher unions have expressed disappointment with the absence of measures to address a number of their concerns in the sector.

The ASTI has said the budget "failed" second-level schools.

The union expressed disappointment that today's measures did not address core funding for schools and did nothing to reduce large class sizes.

The union acknowledged the additional one-off funding for energy costs and school transport of €100 million.

It said school operational costs were wide ranging and a significant increase in the school capitation grant was what was required to bring investment in line with the OECD country average.

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) said the measures went nowhere near remedying the damage that underinvestment and unrestored cutbacks had wreaked on the education system.

The Union said it was disappointed at the absence of measures to tackle teacher recruitment and retention problems. It said additional funding for schools and colleges to meet spiralling energy costs beyond what was announced today should be made available if required.

Welcoming measures such as additional special education teachers and free text books, primary teachers' union, the INTO said however that the budget tackled "the immediate over the important".

General Secretary John Boyle said: "While schools and families require immediate financial support, we must ensure government keeps their promise to support primary school children in the aftermath of the pandemic. In that regard reducing primary class sizes to the EU average of 20 pupils remains key."