Thursday, 10 December 2015

Questions (199)

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

199. Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the Early Start programme (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44656/15]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Early Start Pre School programme was established in 1994/1995 in 40 primary schools in designated areas of urban disadvantage in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Drogheda and Dundalk. The programme is aimed at children aged from 3 years and 2 months to 4 years and 7 months old.

It is a one year intervention scheme to meet the needs of children from disadvantaged backgrounds who are at risk of not reaching their potential within the school system. There is one fully qualified Primary School Teacher and one qualified Child Care Worker for every 30 students in every Early Start unit. Of the 40 Primary Schools, 15 have full units, with capacity for up to 60 students, and 25 half units, with capacity for up to 30 students each.

I am not aware of any shortages of qualified teachers for Early Start Units. The 55 Primary Teachers in question are part of each Primary School's allocation of teachers and often switch between Junior infant classes, Senior infant classes and Early Start unit classes from year to year.