Thursday, 24 October 2019

Questions (102)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

102. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he will take regarding the urgent need for class size reduction in DEIS band 1 schools to cater to the range and severity of the needs of children in view of the fact that DEIS schools have not benefitted from the staffing schedule for the past few years and with class sizes of up to 29 in DEIS band 1 schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43906/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

DEIS Plan 2017 allows for a reduced class size in Urban Band 1 primary schools with the application of a preferential staffing schedule to these schools of 20:1 at junior classes and 24:1 at senior classes to support those students at the highest risk of educational disadvantage. 

Posts allocated on the basis of the staffing schedule are specifically for mainstream classes and should be deployed accordingly. School authorities are requested to ensure that the number of pupils in any class is kept as low as possible, taking all relevant contextual factors into account. However, school authorities should, where possible, use their autonomy under the staffing schedule to implement smaller class sizes for junior classes. The staffing schudule is available on my Department's website at https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0019_2019.pdf

As the Deputy may be aware, DEIS Plan 2017 acknowledges the allocation of teaching resources to DEIS primary schools with the highest concentrations of children at risk of educational disadvantage has served to improve learning outcomes.  It also commits to the evaluation of the level of teaching resources for schools participating in DEIS to be undertaken to inform future policy in this area.  

In order to facilitate this a Class Size Working Group was established comprising representatives from the Education Partners, the Educational Research Centre and the relevant Business Units in my Department. This group has met on a number of occasions to consider class size in the context of  improved learning outcomes of those most at risk of educational disadvantage. 

This report is currently being finalised, and will take into consideration the feedback and observations of the working group members.  It is intended that this will be finalised in the coming weeks.