Education action plan aims to cut early school leaving

The Government has committed to significantly reducing early school leaving, boosting the number of apprenticeships, and piloting state-funded afterschool care services.

Education Minister Richard Bruton made the commitments at the launch of an action plan for education.

They come as the Government prepares to pay for an extra 650 teachers in the budget next month.

Mr Bruton outlined details of the action plan, which will be reviewed annually and aims to make education here the best in Europe by 2026.

Early school leaving will be reduced to 10% in DEIS or disadvantaged schools, it was announced.

The number of apprenticeships for students who leave school will be significantly increased. This will see apprentice numbers increased to 50,000 by 2020 with 100 types of placement. Junior education minister John Halligan said the number and types apprenticeships had significantly dwindled since the c recession.

The Government also intends to introduce courses on computer coding in primary schools by 2018.

Mr Bruton said: “It is something very practical that equips them with skills for real-world situations.”

He said introducing coding early in the schools system is essential but that the programme must be planned.

Mr Halligan said he wants to try to also introduce research and development courses for school students.

Pupils will also be encouraged to take up Chinese, the action plan said, as it was unveiled at St Brigid’s School in the Coombe, Dublin.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the plan would allow children to chose which career or path was best for them: “With this plan we want to lead you on a journey of discovery, where you find your gifts, be the person you want to be in the world.”

However, Fianna Fáil education spokesman Thomas Byrne TD criticised plans for third-level education.

“Despite the deep crisis affecting the third-level sector — with some third-level colleges at financial breaking point — funding for universities and institutes of technology gets practically no mention in the action plan.”

“Fianna Fáil will not stand back and allow the minister to ignore the third-level funding crisis. We will be insisting that this matter is addressed in the budget in the coming weeks, as part of the confidence and supply agreement.”

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