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Dept of Ed statement on Junior Cycle School Book Scheme

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound, on 25/03/2024. Dept of Ed statement on Junior Cycle School Book SchemeTags: Teachers Parenting

Statement issued by Department of Education on the Delivery of the Junior Cycle Schoolbooks advising that additional user-friendly resources and support will be provided after Easter Break

The new Junior Cycle Schoolbooks Scheme is a landmark initiative, and theDepartment of Education has committed to providing additional guidance and support to schools to aid them with procurement and its roll-out for the 2024/25 school year.

The department recognises that this scheme is in its first year, and that, when implementing any new initiative of this size, challenges may be experienced.

The department has committed to providing additional guidance and support to schools to aid them in fulfilling their obligations under procurement legislation, and greatly appreciates the continued commitment of school communities and management bodies to overcoming any challenges and to deliver this valuable scheme in time for the start of the new school year.

The new Junior Cycle Schoolbooks Scheme, introduced for the 2024/25 school year, will remove the cost from families of funding schoolbooks, including eBooks, and core classroom resources for all Junior Cycle students in post-primary schools in the Free Education Scheme.

This is a landmark moment in Irish education and will result in free schoolbooks for up to 213,000 students in over 670 recognised post-primary schools, from this September.

It follows the hugely successful roll-out of the Free Schoolbooks scheme for all children and young people enrolled in primary and special schools this past year.

Providing Junior Cycle students with schoolbooks will help to enhance their educational experience, not just in the classroom but at home and as they prepare for life after school. It will help to ensure that no student will be disadvantaged by a lack of ability to access essential learning resources, and help to ease some of the financial burden facing families.

It builds on the existing book rental schemes that are already available in approximately 65% of post-primary schools.

The Junior Cycle Schoolbooks Scheme grant funding has now issued to 672 post-primary schools.

Support and guidance available to schools

Guidance has been developed to assist post-primary schools to implement the scheme in advance of the 2024/25 school year. This was written with the assistance of the education partners and input from other key stakeholders, including schoolbook publishers and schoolbook suppliers. The guidance is available here .

In recognition of the additional work to be undertaken in post-primary schools in order to implement the scheme, the department is allocating an administration support grant to schools for the 2024/25 school year to assist with the additional work. Schools may use this grant to employ an individual/s to work for a specified number of days/hours to carry out administrative work on the scheme. The days/hours can be used at any time between March 2024 and the end of the 2024/25 school year. Ten, thirteen or sixteen days are allocated to each post-primary school, based on the size of the school’s Junior Cycle enrolment numbers.

Schools have obligations that stem from both EU and national public procurement rules, when sourcing goods and services, and these have been in place for some years.

The 246 schools that are part of the education and training board system have access to procurement support in their ETB.

The Schools Procurement Unit (SPU) is the central support resource for providing guidance to all other schools on any procurement-related issue. The unit delivers free advice and practical support to schools to help them achieve improvements in their procurement processes, practices and outcomes. It has published Guidance for Schools on Good Procurement Practices.

The department is aware that some Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive schools may have limited experience in public procurement where the amounts involved are over a certain threshold.

The department has consulted with management bodies and the NAPD and has undertaken to provide additional user-friendly resources and support to assist these schools in fulfilling these requirements, following the Easter break. This has been communicated to management bodies and directly to schools.

Additional information

Under public procurement law, contracts under €50,000 (exclusive of VAT) may be awarded on the basis of written quotations from three suppliers. Where the total value of a contract is less than €50,000 (ex VAT), the use of a standard template by schools (available here ) will assist to streamline the process whereby schools obtain three quotations. While schools are not obliged to use this template, it is considered beneficial to both schools and suppliers to increase efficiency in the procurement process where the total value of the contract is less than €50,000 (ex VAT).

A total of 53 post-primary schools (excluding ETB schools) received a Junior Cycle schoolbook grant of less than €50,000.

At post-primary level there are currently 728 principals, 1,003 deputy principals, 4,466 teachers holding Assistant Principal I and 5,268 teachers holding Assistant Principal II positions. As part of Budget 2024, an additional 500 posts of responsibility will be put into the post-primary school system for the 2024/25 school year.



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