The Department of Education and Skills (Irish: An Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna) is a department of the Government of Ireland. It is led by the Minister for Education and Skills who is assisted by two Ministers of State.
The official headquarters and Ministerial offices of the Department of Education and Skills are at Marlborough Street, Dublin 1. The Departmental team consists of the following:
Minister for Education and Skills: Ruairi Quinn, TD
Minister of State for Research and Innovation: Seán Sherlock, TD
Minister of State for Training and Skills: Ciarán Cannon, TD
Secretary General of the Department: Brigid McManus
The mission of the Department of Education and Skills is to provide high-quality education which will enable individuals to achieve their full potential and to participate fully as members of society, and contribute to Ireland's social, cultural and economic development. Chief among the Department's priorities are:
the promotion of equity and inclusion, quality outcomes and lifelong learning
planning for education that is relevant to personal, social, cultural and economic needs
enhancement of the capacity of the Department for service delivery, policy formulation, research and evaluation
While education at primary and secondary levels is free in Ireland, due to costs for books and other levies it is estimated that it can cost as much as €70,000 to put a child through the state school system (from age 5 to 17) at 2009 costs.
The Department of Education was created in 1921. Over the years its name has changed; however, the role of the Department has remained the same. The Department was previously known as the following:
Department of Education (1921-1997)
Department of Education and Science (1997-2010)
Department of Education and Skills (2010-present)
During this period the main focus was on running the National School primary system, with free secondary education provided from 1968.
As Irish Catholics are obliged to be educated by persons influenced by the Catholic Church, the Department has had to liaise with and accommodate the Church.
The Department also had the task of overseeing reformatory and industrial schools from 1922. The 2009 "Ryan Report" found that this was rarely achieved (see Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse).