Written Answers. - Shercock (Cavan) School.

William Cotter

Question:

121 Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the fact that (a) in Shercock national school, County Cavan, there are (1) 36 students in first class which also contains some students from second class, (2) 37 students in second grade which includes third grade, (3) 38 students in grade six which also includes some students from grade five and (b) that the situation is a cause of great concern to the parents of the children in these classes who are anxious that additional funds be made available for primary education so that class sizes can be reduced to a manageable level; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

As the Deputy will be aware there is an agreement between the Government and the INTO regarding the staffing of national schools.

As part of this agreement my Department have implemented a reduction of one unit in the enrolment-staffing schedule for national schools from 1 September 1990. This agreement has led to an improvement in the pupil-teacher ratio in national schools for the 1990-91 school year.

Under existing arrangements negotiated under the auspices of the Central Review Committee, school authorities, in particular the principal teacher, are responsible for arranging the organisation of the school so as to ensure that no class group exceeds the following guidelines set down by my Department: 39 (in the case of a single-grade class-group); 38 (in the case of a class-group with two consecutive grades) and 35 (in the case of a multi-grade class-group.

The enrolment at Shercock national school on 30 September 1990 was 184. Staff consists of six teachers — a principal and five assistants.

I understand that there are no classes at this school in breach of the maximum class size guidelines. The board of management of this school have not applied for sanction to appoint an additional assistant teacher.

The issue of class sizes in national schools will be reviewed in the context of ongoing discussions under theProgramme for Economic and Social Development.