Tuesday, 15 October 2019
Department of Education and Skills
218. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will respond to the campaign of an organisation (details supplied) for investment in primary education, which is calling for a reduction in class sizes to bring them in line with the European average of 20:1; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41929/19]
In the current school year, the numbers employed in our schools have reached the highest ever level. Over 1,300 additional posts in schools have been funded, including more than 370 teaching posts to cater for growth in student population and additional special classes. This builds on the Budget 2018 measure which provided a one point improvement in the staffing schedule in primary schools which brings the position to a general average of 26 pupils to every 1 teacher, the lowest ever allocation ratio at primary level.
The latest figures in relation to pupil teacher ratio show an improved ratio of teachers to students from 16:1 to 15.2:1 at primary level when comparing the 2015/16 school year to the 2018/19 school year. Average class sizes at primary level improved from 24.9 to 24.3 in the same period.
Budget 2020 has provided for a budget of more than €11 billion for the Department of Education and Skills in 2020. This is the highest ever allocation to the sector and an increase of nearly €2 billion since 2016.
The Budget 2020 measure of improved teacher staffing levels for schools with four teachers or less will see a more favourable pupil teacher ratio in small schools from September 2020. This improved schedule will apply in two, three and four teacher schools and ensure one less pupil is required to retain/recruit a teacher.