Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (412)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

553 Mr. Ó Fearghail asked the Minister for Education and Science if she plans an initiative to further reduce class sizes at primary level. [25456/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

Significant improvements have been made in the pupil teacher ratio at primary level in recent years. The ratio has fallen from 22.2:1 in the 1996-97 school year to 17.44:1 in the 2003-04 school year. Arising from these improvements, class sizes have reduced in the same period. I am committed to reducing class sizes still further. This, however, can only be done on a phased basis having regard to available resources and subject to spending priorities within the education sector. Priority will be given to pupils with special needs and those from disadvantaged areas.

I have requested my Department's inspectorate to monitor the deployment of staff and class sizes and, where necessary, to discuss with school authorities the basis on which school policy decisions in this regard have been made and to report to my Department where appropriate.