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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Legislation and Official Policy Documents


15.Legislation and Official Policy Documents

Last update: 27 November 2023


A list of legislative changes to any Act, and to Statutory Instruments from 1998, may be found linked from the page of the Act or Statutory Instrument in The Irish Statute Book.

Recent legislative changes in Ireland and legislation being processed relating to education include the following:

The Children First Act 2015

The Children First Act 2015 (No. 36 of 2015) came into operation December 2017. This Order provides for the commencement of the remaining provisions (sections 6 — 17, 19 and 27) of the Act. Section 7 provides that the Child and Family Agency shall, in performing a function under the Act, regard the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration. Sections 8 to 13, inclusive, provide that a provider of relevant services to children must ensure that, as far as practicable, a child, while availing of its services, is kept safe from harm.

The Education Amendment Act 2012

The Education (Amendment Act) 2012 (Number 14 of 2012) made some technical adjustments to the 1998 Education Act, the Teaching Council Act of 2001 and repealed the Scientific and Technological Education (Investment) Fund Acts of 1997 and 1998.

Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training Act 2012 (Number 28 of 2012)

The Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training Act 2012 (Number 28 of 2012) established Quality and Qualifications Ireland as Ireland's external quality assurance agency, and replaced other boards including the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, the Irish Universities Quality Assurance Board, the Further Education and Training Awards Council and the Higher Education and Training Awards Council. It also provided for the maintenance of the National Framework of Qualifications and the award of an International Education Mark to English language schools and other providers catering for international students and provided for matters connected therewith. 

Education and Training Boards Act 2013 (Number 11 of 2013) 

The Education and Training Boards Act 2013 (Number 11 of 2013) provided for the establishment of sixteen Education and Training Boards (ETBs) to replace the 33 Vocational Education and Training Committees, which have existed since the 1930s. The ETBs main role is to provide and maintain recognised schools and centres for education or training, including providing programmes of further education and training in their catchment areas. This Order also provides for the setting of terms and conditions of the chief executives of those boards and the designation of people to be appointed the first chief executives of those boards.

Further Education and Training Act 2013 (Number 25 of 2013)

The Further Education and Training Act 2013 (Number 25 of 2013) repeals the Labour Services Act 1987, provides for the dissolution of FAS (the National Training and Employment Authority) and the transfer of its training functions to An tSeirbhís Oideachais Leanúnaigh agus Scileannna (SOLAS). In partnership with the 16 new ETBs, SOLAS is responsible for the integration, co-ordination and funding of the wide range of training and further education programmes throughout Ireland and provides for all matters connected therewith. 

Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 (Number 11 of 2015)

The Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 (Number 11 of 2015) enables an education provider to describe itself in certain circumstances as a university; amends the Universities Act 1997; amends the Education Act 1998; amends the Student Support Act 2011; and provides for related matters. This Act enables certain institutions with accredited doctoral programmes, other than through delegated authority under section 53 of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training Act 2012, to use the term "university" for purposes outside the State. It also enables Quality and Qualifications Ireland to establish Appeal Boards, and makes some amendments to the Education Act 1998 and the Universities Act 1997.

Teaching Council Act 2001 (Commencement) Order 2016 (S.I. No. 407/2016)

The Teaching Council Act 2001 (Commencement) Order 2016 (S.I. No. 407/2016) promotes teaching as a profession, promotes the professional development of teachers, maintains and improves the quality of teaching in the state, and provides for the establishment of standards, policies and procedures for the education and training of teachers and all matters relating to teachers and the teaching profession.  

Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015 (Number 31 of 2015)

The Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015 (Number 31 of 2015) amends the Teaching Council Act 2001; to amend the Education Act 1998 and to provide for related matters. The purpose of the Act is to provide a clear statutory basis for the role of the Teaching Council in the planned statutory arrangements for the Garda vetting of registered teachers. It empowers the Teaching Council to seek and obtain vetting disclosures in its own right as a registration body i.e., for initial registration, renewal of registration and, where relevant, in a Fitness to Teach inquiry and to clarify and strengthen the statutory provisions relating to the Teaching Council’s fitness to teach function. In this Act “Principal Act” means the Teaching Council Act 2001.

Acts referred to:

  • Education (Amendment) Act 2012 (No. 14)

  • Education (Welfare) Act 2000 (No. 22)

  • Education Act 1998 (No. 51)

  • Education Acts 1878 to 2012

  • Education and Training Boards Act 2013 (No. 11)

  • Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 (No. 30)

  • National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 (No. 47)

  • Teaching Council Act 2001 (No. 8)

  • Teaching Council Acts 2001 to 2012

Educational Research Centre (Establishment) Order. Statutory Instrument (S.I. No. 392/2015)

The Educational Research Centre (Establishment) Order. Statutory Instrument SI No 392 of 2015 inaugurated the Educational Research Centre on a statutory basis as a corporate body of the Minister for Education and Science under the Section 54 of the Education Act 1998. It had been operating for some years previously on an informal basis.

Student Support Act 2011 (Commencement of Certain Provisions) Order 2012 (S.I. No. 163/2012)

The Student Support Act 2011 (Commencement of Certain Provisions) Order 2012 (S.I. No. 163/2012) provides for the making of grants in certain cases by awarding authorities to enable persons to attend certain courses of higher or further education, to establish an appeals board to be known as An Bord Achomhairc i leith Deontas Mac Léinn, or The Students’ Grants Appeal Board, to repeal the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts 1968-1992, and to provide for related matters.


A significant piece of legislation, the Education (Admissions to Schools) Bill 2016 (No 58 of 2016), was published in July 2016, and has been approved by the Government with a view to enactment as soon as possible. This Bill is designed to make it easier for parents to more easily access local schools and to enrol their children in a school that meets their needs. The Admissions Bill includes a series of practical common-sense reforms to the process of admissions to schools and commands broad support across the Dáil (national elected representatives).

The new Bill includes measures to:

  • Ensure that where a school is not oversubscribed (80% of schools) it must admit all students applying;

  • Ban waiting lists, thus ending the discrimination against parents who move in to a new area;

  • Ban fees relating to admissions in non-fee paying schools;

  • Require all schools to publish their admissions policies, which will include details of the provisions for pupils who decline to participate in religious instruction;

  • Require all schools to consult with and inform parents where changes are being made to admissions policies;

  • Explicitly ban discrimination in school admissions;

  • Provide for a situation where a child (with special needs or otherwise) cannot find a school place, and allow the National Council for Special Education or Tusla (Child and Family Agency) to designate a school place for the child.

This legislation will increase the transparency and fairness of school admissions and makes clear that every school must be welcoming of every young person – regardless of their religion, colour, their abilities or disabilities. It will help to end the soft barriers that some of our schools erect in the way of children with special needs.

The Technological Universities Bill (Number 121 of 2015) was presented to Parliament in October 2015. The Government approved the progression of the Bill together with inclusion of the insertions and amendments to the Bill, in November 2017. The legislative process for the Technological Bill 2015 commenced in January 2014.

The advancement of the Bill to early enactment by the end of 2018, if possible, will pave the way for consortia that are ready to make applications for designation to apply and be assessed in 2018.

The legislation when enacted will underpin the development of a new type of Higher Education institution, focusing on the combined strengths of the Institutes of Technology to develop into Technological Universities.

These Institute of Technology groups will work towards the attainment of Technological University status in a four-phased process, and their progress will be assessed by an international evaluation panel.

There are currently four consortia engaged with the process to become designated as Technological Universities.  These are TU4Dublin (Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Tallaght, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown), Technological University for the South-East (TUSE – consisting of Waterford Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Carlow), Munster Technological University (MTU – consisting of Cork Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Tralee) and the Connaught Ulster Alliance (CUA – consisting of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo and Letterkenny Institute of Technology).  

The new universities, with greater critical mass, will seek to upgrade and enhance their educational status, in both teaching and research. However, they will differ from other existing universities in that they will retain the same institute of technology practical industry focus and emphasis on outputting skilled personnel into the labour force. Through mergers, the institutions can achieve the critical mass to allow them to reach the scale and level of performance required to compete on the world stage with other similar institutions.

20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language

The 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language outlines an integrated approach to the Irish language, in which 9 areas of action are specified, including education, the Gaeltacht, the family, the community, the media, technology and the economy. The relevant actions under the Strategy are being implemented by the various stakeholders, including the department of education and skills.

Significant progress has been achieved on the educational policies mentioned in the 20-Year Strategy for Irish, especially those in relation to curricular and assessment developments in Irish, strengthening of Irish-medium education, including Gaeltacht education, and developments in initial education and continuing professional development for teachers (Progress Report: 2010 to 2015, DES, November 2015).