Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Department of Education and Skills
116. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which the pupil-teacher ratio at primary and second level throughout the country is a matter of concern; the extent to which he expects to be in a position to improve the situation in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2210/17]
117. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which the pupil-teacher ratio at primary and second level throughout County Kildare is a matter of concern; the extent to which he expects to be in a position to improve the situation in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2211/17]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 117 together.
The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools is published annually on the Department's website. The Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) is determined by the overall number of posts and enrolments as of the 30th September of the previous year.
The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September. The staffing schedule operates in a clear and transparent manner and treats all similar types of schools equally irrespective of location.
Reducing class sizes has been a target of successive Governments. Budget 2016 provided for an improvement in the staffing schedule in primary schools by one point, from 1 teacher for every 28 pupils to 1 teacher for every 27 pupils for the 2016/17 school year. The Programme for Government has a commitment to reduce class sizes at primary level and it is my intention to make further improvements to class sizes over the life of the Government.
My focus in Budget 2017 was on obtaining additional funding to provide for demographic growth, additional special education and school leadership resources for our schools.
Budget 2017 sets out the resources available for schools for the 2017/18 school year. This Budget represents the start of a major reinvestment in education, and the first phase of implementation of the Action Plan for Education, aimed at becoming the best education system in Europe within a decade. The budget provides for over 2,400 additional teaching posts for our primary and post primary schools next year. The 2017/18 school year will see a significant increase in teacher numbers (almost 4,700) in our schools compared to the 2015/16 school year.
There is no change in relation to the staffing schedule of 27:1 that will apply to primary schools for the 2017/18 school year. However, it should be noted that the current staffing schedule of 27:1 for primary schools has restored it to the position it was at prior to the fiscal crisis.
In considering any approach to the restoration of posts, it is important that there is a fairness in the restoration and that a balance between primary and post primary is achieved in future budgets. At second level there is still a substantial degree of restoration to be made.