Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Questions (417, 420, 421, 427, 430, 431, 436, 440, 473, 494, 503, 516, 524)

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

417. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education if she will ensure that the proposed reduction in class sizes for primary schools will include infant and vertical DEIS schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11223/21]

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Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

420. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education when she plans to extend the one point reduction in the pupil teacher ratio as set out in budget 2021 to all DEIS band 1 schools; and if not, the reason. [11265/21]

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Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

421. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Education if she supports calls to include all DEIS band one schools and classes in the planned class size reductions and not just in senior classes; the steps being taken to address same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11291/21]

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Patrick Costello

Question:

427. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Education if she will commit to a reduction in class size at all class levels in DEIS band one schools. [11297/21]

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Seán Haughey

Question:

430. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education if she will bring forward a reduction in class size at all class levels in DEIS band 1 schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11326/21]

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Thomas Pringle

Question:

431. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education the classes that have received the reduction of one in the staffing schedule ratio for all DEIS primary schools as outlined in Budget 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11331/21]

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Colm Burke

Question:

436. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Education if there will be a reduction in class sizes at all levels in DEIS band 1 schools in view of the reduction of class sizes in mainstream primary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11363/21]

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Paul Murphy

Question:

440. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education if she will urgently introduce a reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio for the staffing schedule for all DEIS band 1 schools and in particular for DEIS band 1 junior schools of at least the same percentage reduction of pupil-teacher ratios provided for the mainstream schools in recent years to address the needs of the most disadvantaged children in the school community. [11446/21]

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Bríd Smith

Question:

473. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Education if she will address the discrepancy between mainstream primary schools that have received a reduction of one in the staffing schedule and DEIS band one schools that have only received a reduction of one in senior classes; if she will acknowledge that DEIS band one schools have not received any reduction in the schedule over the past number of years despite a reduction from 28 to 25 in mainstream schools; the steps she will take to introduce a reduction in class size at all class levels in DEIS band one schools to bring class sizes in the most disadvantaged areas in line with all other mainstream schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11691/21]

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Paul McAuliffe

Question:

494. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Education her progress in the reduction in class size in DEIS band one schools for the next academic year and future years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11945/21]

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Richard Bruton

Question:

503. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education if she will consider allocating additional resources to acutely disadvantaged schools which could be used flexibly to address their requirements to enable the gap to be closed given the reduction in class size at primary level in recent years and the fact that the increment of additional resources available to DEIS band 1 schools has reduced and there is no evidence that the gap in performance by such schools has narrowed. [12016/21]

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Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

516. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Education her plans to include a reduction in class size at all class levels in DEIS band one schools when she issues the annual staffing circular; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12076/21]

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Gary Gannon

Question:

524. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to educators in DEIS band one schools who will not receive a reduction in their staffroom schedule calling for inclusion in the staffing schedule reduction which is set to benefit all primary schools with the exception of DEIS band one junior and vertical schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12155/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 417, 420, 421, 427, 430, 431, 436, 440, 473, 494, 503, 516 and 524 together.

The Deputy will be aware that, on the 1st March 2021, I announced a package of measures to tackle educational disadvantage. This announcement includes a one point reduction in class size from 22:1 to 21:1 in Urban Band 1 vertical schools and 20:1 to 19:1 in Urban Band 1 junior schools. This is in addition to previously announced one-point reduction for Senior Urban Band 1 schools from 24:1 to 23:1. It is estimated that the reduction of class size in Urban Band 1 schools will require an additional 50 teaching posts and have a full year cost in the region of €2.45 million.

Having considered options on how best to support those learners with the highest levels of need, I have also decided to allocate a 5% increase in the budget of the School Completion Programme and approve the extension of the programme to 28 Urban Band 1 and post-primary schools newly included in DEIS in 2017. I have also reduced the enrolment threshold for the allocation of an additional deputy principal in DEIS post-primary schools, from 700 to 600 students.

DEIS remains this Department’s main policy to tackle educational disadvantage. My Department will spend over €150 million on the programme this year. In light of the need to support students who have missed out on learning opportunities as a result of Covid-19 school closures, it is vital that DEIS schools catering for those students from poorer socio-economic backgrounds receive continued support. Hence I have targeted the funding available where it can best support.