Thursday, 15 October 2020
Department of Education and Skills
195. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her plans to reduce class sizes as outlined in the programme for Government; and if there are additional allocations in budget 2021 to progress the reduction of class sizes. [30809/20]
I am acutely aware of the issues faced by many schools in respect of teacher allocations and class sizes. Under the Programme for Government there is a commitment to seek to make further progress in reducing the pupil teacher ratios in primary schools.
Previous budgets of 2016 and 2018 improved the staffing schedule by one point on both occasions to its historically lowest level ever of 1 teacher to 26 pupils. Primary schools are currently provided with class teachers on the basis of one teacher for every 26 pupils which is at its historically lowest level.
I am delighted to build further on this progress by announcing a further 1 point reduction in Budget 2021.
The staffing schedule for the 2021/22 academic year now stands at 1 teacher for every 25 pupils. This measure will help ensure better teacher retention in primary schools while also ensuring that less pupils are required to retain or recruit a teacher.
Teacher numbers at primary level have increased by almost 3,500 when comparing the 2015/16 school year with the 2019/20 school year and this has led to a steady improvement in the pupil teacher ratio and average class size statistics during this period.
The latest figures in relation to pupil teacher ratio show an improved ratio of teachers to students from 16:1 to 15:1 at primary level when comparing the 2015/16 school year to the 2019/20 school year. Average class sizes improved from 24.9 to 24.1 in the same period. The most recent budget announcement will continue the positive trend of improving class sizes.