Written answers

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Department of Education and Skills

Education Policy

Photo of Paul McAuliffePaul McAuliffe (Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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255. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her plans to reduce class sizes at primary level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49206/21]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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Under the Programme for Government there is a commitment to make further progress in reducing the pupil teacher ratios in primary schools.

As part of the Budget 2021 measures, the Government have delivered on this commitment by the announcement of a 1 point change to the primary staffing schedule and the introduction of a three point reduction in the number of pupils needed to retain a teacher. For the 2021/22 school year the staffing schedule is on the basis of 1 teacher for every 25 pupils. This Budget improvement has resulted in the lowest pupil teacher ratio ever at primary school.

The latest figures in relation to pupil teacher ratio shows an improved ratio of teachers to pupils 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 1:15. In the same period the staffing schedule improved from 28:1 to 25:1 for this school year.

Average class sizes improved from 24.9 to 23.3 in the same period. The most recent budget announcement will continue the positive trend of improving class sizes for this school year, and statistics on this will be published later in the year.

The staffing schedule which now stands at a new historical low will also help to ensure better teacher retention in primary schools while also ensuring that less pupils are required to retain or recruit a teacher.

Any further improvement will be considered in the context of the annual budgetary process.

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