Written Answers. - School Staffing.

Enda Kenny

Question:

998 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the proposals, if any, he has to improve the conditions, facilities and teacher numbers at one teacher schools as committed in An Action Programme for the Millennium; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1813/99]

Each primary school receives annually a devolved capital grant of £2,000 plus £9 per pupil to enable it to carry out minor capital improvements to its buildings and facilities. Since I came into office I have increased the capitation grant by 33 per cent. The standard rate has been increased from £45 to £60 per pupil, while a minimum grant of £3,600 is now payable to all schools with 60 pupils or less.

In relation to staffing, the Deputy will be aware of my particular commitment to one teacher schools. First, with effect from September 1998, I reduced the appointment figure for a second teaching post from 25 pupils to 18 pupils. This resulted in 25 schools gaining a second teaching post for the current school year. Second, the minimum enrolment needed to retain a second teaching post has been reduced from 23 to 18, with the result that 28 schools are continuing to operate as two teacher units in the current school year. Third, I allowed a further 14 schools whose enrolments had fallen below 18 pupils to retain their second teacher for the current school year.
In the current school year, therefore, a total of 67 schools are operating as two teacher units as a direct consequence of my supportive initiatives for one teacher schools. At present there are 56 one teacher schools which have an enrolment of ten or more pupils. I am currently examining a range of options with a view to identifying the most appropriate way to fulfil the Government's commitments to these remaining one teacher schools as outlined in An Action Programme for the Millennium.