Written answers

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Department of Education and Skills

School Staff

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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291. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the appeal will be supported to retain an additional teacher at a school (details supplied); if she will take steps to rectify the situation prior to the next appeal date on 15 June 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30289/21]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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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.

For the 2021/22 school year, an improvement of one point in the appointment threshold in primary schools has been introduced and schools will be provided with class teachers on the basis of of 1 teacher for every 25 pupils which is a historical low ratio.  In addition, a three point reduction in the retention scale has also been introduced for September 2021.  These measures will help to ensure that less pupils are required to recruit or retain a teacher.

The staffing process contains an appeals mechanism for schools to submit a staffing appeal under certain criteria to an independent Primary Staffing Appeals Board. The school submitted a staffing appeal which was refused by the Appeals Board as the grounds of the appeal did not warrant a departure from the staffing schedule.  The school has been notified of this decision.  The Primary Staffing Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

My Department has published a suite of helpful guidance for the safe and sustainable operation of schools including illustrative Primary Classroom Layouts to facilitate physical distancing requirements for primary schools. Each school should use their COVID-19 Response Plan for the safe operation through the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19 in line with the public health advice. This guidance is focused on the practical steps school must take to minimise the risk of transmission of infection.

The configuration of classes and the deployment of classroom teachers are done at local school level. The Department's guidance to schools is that the number of pupils in any class is kept as low as possible taking all relevant contextual factors into account (e.g. classroom accommodation, fluctuating enrolment etc.).  

The school referred to by the Deputy is projecting an enrolment of 150 pupils in September.  On that basis, the average class size in the school would be 21:1.

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