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Over €375m funding announced to help schools reopen at the end of August

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By Michelle Crean

 

Education Minister Norma Foley has this evening announced that schools will reopen at the end of August.

 

The Department is providing capital and current funding of over €375 million to support the safe and sustainable reopening of schools under the Reopening Our Schools - The Roadmap for the Full Return to School’.

The package includes:

  • Plans for an additional 1,080 teaching posts at post-primary level at a cost of €53 million, to include the following measures:

-       120 guidance posts will be provided to support student well-being

-       An initial allocation of over 600 posts to be made available to post-primary schools

-       Remaining posts will be used to support those post-primary schools experiencing particular difficulties to reopen fully and adhere to physical distancing and class sizes.

  • Additional funding, estimated at €84.7 million, so that schools can employ replacement teaching staff, SNA and administrative staff. This can occur where staff members who are identified in line with HSE guidance as at ‘very high risk’ of COVID-19 are advised to cocoon.
  • Additional funding of €41.2 million, to provide primary schools with substitute staff. This will provide more certainty on the availability of substitutes for primary schools and cover substitutions that are not covered by existing schemes, as well as where staff members who display symptoms cannot come to work in the school, in line with public health advice.
  • An estimated additional cost of €40m to provide post-primary schools with additional supervision of students. This will be a key control measure to support schools to minimising interaction of students from different classes, in line with public health advice.
  • An additional €52 million for schools to put in place enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools. This is being provided on a per-pupil basis and is intended to allow an additional four to six hours cleaning per day in schools.
  • Provide all teaching principals at primary level with a minimum of one release day per week to relieve the administrative burden arising from the changes and the impacts of COVID-19 and a new measure to provide deputy principals with some release days, ranging from five days to 16 days depending on the school size, to support administrative principals.
  • A €75 million capital allocation to support schools to prepare their buildings and classrooms for reopening including an uplift for schools with SEN pupils.
  • €4.2 million to enable schools to employ an aide to implement the logistical changes needed in schools – moving furniture, changing classroom layouts, set up hand sanitising stations, signage etc.
  • €3.8m to provide release time for each school to have a lead worker representative, whose role is to support the school to manage the risk of COVID-19 infections.

“This is a comprehensive plan that will support our schools to reopen for the new school year,” Minister Foley said.

“We have worked extremely hard to develop plans that not only provide certainty to schools as to what they need to do, but that are meaningful, practical, and realistic.

“There is a strong emphasis in the roadmap on safety, and on practical arrangements, but also on ensuring the well-being of the students and of the entire staff community. I am deeply conscious that children and young people have had their learning disrupted due to the global pandemic.

“Our schools now face another challenge, to support our students to return to and stay in school safely, to re-engage them and support them to settle in, and progress in their learning.

“I have today written to all members of school staff and to parents, thanking them for the roles they are playing and will continue to play as we return at the end of August. We will continue to communicate with schools and through them with parents and students, as schools return, and keep a close eye to ensure that the supports are working as they should. I am delighted we have been able to secure such a comprehensive package of support, which will ensure that at the end of August we will once again hear the joy and laughter of children and young people in our schools.”

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Housing Will Never Be The Same

Last week I wrote about the pathetic investment options out there for Irish investors. Despite high ongoing fees (mortgage, maintenance, insurance etc.) and the actual headache of being a landlord, […]

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Last week I wrote about the pathetic investment options out there for Irish investors.

Despite high ongoing fees (mortgage, maintenance, insurance etc.) and the actual headache of being a landlord, it’s easy to see why real estate functioned as the de facto investment portfolio for an entire generation.

Wealth creation was a rinse-and-repeat function where couples put money away until they had enough for the ‘next house’. As a result, we have an economy where 70% of household wealth is tied up in real estate.

Driven by the profits it created, Ireland became obsessed with owning real estate.

But real estate as an investment won’t be nearly as successful for our generation. (If you are able to get a house, that is)

All you have to do is look at the anecdotal evidence all around us to confirm this.

My parents bought the house they currently live in for 30k (pounds) 35 years ago. The house is now worth roughly 450k.

I typically despise these back-of-the-envelope calculations when It comes to property, given the endless variables and ongoing costs involved, but bear with me.

That’s a gross return of 15 times the original value. Now there are upgrades, a change in currency and other adjustments to consider here, so for argument’s sake, let’s call it 10X.

To achieve the same level of growth over the next 35 years, you would be left paying 4,500,000 euros for what is a pretty modest house.

Sure, we will still see property prices increase over time, but the rate of growth won’t be anywhere near as meaningful for one simple reason.

Interest rates.

Artificial Growth

Over the last 30 years, real economic growth has been stagnant, yet Ireland has experienced enviable nominal growth.

How did we manage it?

We created imaginary wealth.

We pushed interest rates lower and lower to stimulate economic growth.

And it worked.

After all, if you make 100k/year you can probably afford a 400k mortgage at 4%. At 2%, with the same 100k/year salary you can now take on 600k in debt.

So, were we getting richer, or was the debt just easier to afford?

Where do we go from here?

We have now squeezed interest rates as low as they can go.

The house price appreciation we have seen was justifiable because the mortgage rates on housing continued to fall in recent decades. This allowed people to take on more debt without severely impacting their ability to repay that debt.

If we go back to my parents, they were paying 14% on their mortgage. Mortgage rates are currently between 2 to 3%.

A relentless drop in interest rates gave way to higher and higher prices for houses, but interest rates are now on the floor.

The juice has been squeezed.

In fact, the trend has started to reverse, with rates expected to rise 1.5% in the first half of 2023

Be mindful that the same credit expansion cannot happen again.

How the next generation thinks about their investment options has to change.

Banks offering 0% returns for the use of your money and a housing ladder you can’t get on are not your only two options.

If you need help creating your own investment portfolio, just reach out to me at mike@theislandinvestor or simply scan the QR code above.

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Biddies performance celebrates St Brigid

Two local Biddies groups performed at Muckross House as part of St Brigid’s Day celebrations in aid of Kerry Parents and Friends Association. The Killarney Parents and Friends Biddy Group – formerly […]

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Two local Biddies groups performed at Muckross House as part of St Brigid’s Day celebrations in aid of Kerry Parents and Friends Association.

The Killarney Parents and Friends Biddy Group – formerly known as the Beaufort Biddy Group – and Kilgobnet Biddies came together for the event.

The tradition of the Biddies is one of the oldest and most colourful customs in Ireland, a blend of pagan and Christian pageantry, held on February 1 each year, heralding the beginning of springtime and honouring St Bríd the patron saint of the farming community.

Master traditional craftsman, Pat Broderick, at Muckross House, was also part of St Brigid’s Day celebrations, making a St Brigid’s Cross as part of the traditions.

 

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