The two most striking measures for education in Budget 2022 are the reduction in the pupil teacher ratio at primary level, and the improvement to student grants awarded under SUSI.
Primary schools currently employ one teacher for every 25 pupils. Next year that will increase to one teacher for every 24.
In disadvantaged schools, the pupil-teacher ratio is to be improved further, by one further point.
This will involve the appointment of 350 additional teachers.
Overall, Budget 2022 allows for 980 additional teachers across primary and second level, and for the appointment of 1,165 additional Special Needs Assistants.
However, we will have to wait until tomorrow to get the detail on all these additional posts. They include extra staffing required to meet rising demographics.
The number of students enrolling in post-primary schools could rise by 7,000 next year, according to Department of Education projections.
Last year, 265 additional teaching posts were needed simply to meet rising demographics.
Of the 1,165 new Special Needs Assistant posts, 574 will go to special classes in mainstream schools, 46 to special schools and 545 will work with children in mainstream classrooms.
At third level, the SUSI Maintenance Grant will increase by €200.
The income threshold to qualify for student grants will increase by €1,000. This means more students will be eligible for a grant.
The distance for the higher non-adjacent student grant will also be reduced from 45km to 30km. This means more students who are living away from home or travelling to college will qualify for the higher grant.
It is a decade since any improvements have been made to SUSI rates, but the Union of Students in Ireland has dismissed the increases as a "sticking plaster".
On RTÉ News, USI president, Clare Austick, said they were "very disappointing" and not good enough.
The Irish Universities Association has said the investment in higher education and research announced in Budget 2022, while welcome, is not sufficient to address the core funding deficit in the sector.
IUA Chair and President of NUI Galway, Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: "At a time when corporate tax advantages are diminishing as a means of attracting investment to Ireland, talent is increasingly cited as our remaining social and economic advantage.
"The Government should, therefore, be doubling down on its investment in talent and in research and innovation to ensure the future of a good society and the growth of the economy which supports it."
Other measures announced today include an additional €30 million for school transport.
€18 million will bring more schools into the state's DEIS programme for disadvantaged schools.
Trade unions say they need to see that detail to have a clearer idea as to what the impact of Budget 2022 will be on the sector.
They have welcomed aspects of today’s announcement, such as improvements to the pupil teacher ratio at primary level.
Schools and parents await more information
Many school principals and others involved in education - including representative organisations - will be eagerly awaiting the detail of some of the measures announced in broad outline in Budget 2022.
With all sorts of figures being thrown about today, they will want to know exactly how their own school will be affected.
Some parents, too, will have questions. "Do all these extra SNAs mean that my child might now get one?" some will be asking.
But detail today was thin on the ground. We have an outline traced out, but the picture needs 'colouring in'.
The Department of Education will give more detail tomorrow. More information on measures for Higher and Further Education will come on Thursday.
The questions that need answering include:
- How many of the additional SNAs and teachers are simply to soak up the rising demographic challenge?
- How many of those extra posts will be at second level and how many at primary?
- How many more schools will be allowed the benefits of the state’s DEIS programme for disadvantaged schools?
Individual schools, that have long been campaigning to be brought into the state’s DEIS scheme, have their fingers tightly crossed, hoping that coming days or weeks will bring good news for their pupils.