Date Uploaded: 12/09/2016
A deal to restore pay equality for newly qualified teachers is expected to be struck in the next week or so.
It would bring an end to two-tier pay scales, which have left young teachers up to €5,000 a year worse off than older colleagues because of the withdrawal of a qualifications allowance in 2012.
More than 7,000 teachers, recruited to primary and post-primary schools since 2012, stand to gain from the deal - although no details have yet emerged over what timeframe or conditions may be attached.
Education Minister Richard Bruton said recently that the aim was to conclude discussions by "early" this month and teachers unions are keeping up pressure for a deal by the end of next week.
Whatever agreement is reached, it will apply only to teachers whose unions have accepted the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA) on pay and productivity.
Discussions during the summer involved the Department of Education, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and two teachers' unions - the TUI and the INTO - both of which have accepted the LRA, while the ASTI has not.
While not formally part of the Budget, any extra pay costs in 2017 would have to be factored in to the Department of Education's spending arithmetic.
Much of the extra expenditure in the 2017 Budget in education will focus on reversing cuts from the austerity era, which have eaten into the fabric of the education system.
Mr Bruton's own officials delivered a stark warning to him when he took up office about how the 11pc cuts in grants to schools between 2011 and 2015 had brought some to the brink of closure.
Putting that right would cost €40m a year, but it would take pressure off parents to fund-raise and to pay voluntary contributions to help cover basics, like insurance and heating bills.
Full restoration of guidance counselling hours at second level and a reduction in junior and senior infants class sizes are among the other issues being strongly pushed.
At third level, universities blame their ongoing slide in international rankings on years of underfunding and used this week's publication of the latest league table for a warning that there could be no further delay in reversing the cuts, while the return of grants for post-graduate students, abolished in 2012, is high on the agenda of student leaders and Fianna Fáil.
Journalist: Katherine Donnelly