Dáil debates

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh (Atógáil) - Priority Questions (Resumed)

Education Policy

10:50 am

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

In the programme for Government, there is a strong commitment to making further progress in reducing the pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools and supporting small schools. As part of budget 2021 measures, the Government has sought to deliver on this commitment by the announcement of a one-point change to the primary staffing schedule and the introduction of a three-point reduction in the number of pupils required to retain a teacher. For the 2021-22 school year, the staffing schedule is on the basis of one classroom teacher for every 25 pupils. This budget improvement has resulted in the lowest pupil-teacher ratio ever at primary school. The latest figures relating to pupil-teacher ratio show an improved pupil-teacher ratio from 16:1 to 14.5:1 at primary level, when comparing the 2015-16 school year to the 2020-21 school year. This compares favourably with the OECD pupil-teacher ratio, which is 15:1. In the same period, the staffing schedule moved from 28:1 to 25:1 for this school year.

The most recent budget announcement will continue this positive trend of improving class sizes this school year. Statistics on this will be published later in the year. The staffing schedule, which now stands at a historical low, will help to ensure better teacher retention in primary school and that less pupils are required to retain or recruit a teacher. Significant improvements have been made in terms of pupil-teacher ratio, looking from 2016 through to 2021. It has been a considerable achievement that we are at an historically low level of 25:1.

I appreciate and know from experience that there are always opportunities to do more. I am committed to doing all we can to reduce that further. We have a significant budget and will have a further budget coming before us in October. There will be considerable negotiation involved in that but there is a strong commitment under the programme for Government to address the issue of pupil-teacher ratio further.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.