Under the Programme for Government there is a commitment to make further progress in reducing the pupil teacher ratios in primary schools and supporting small schools.
As part of the Budget 2021 measures, the Government have sought to deliver on this commitment by the announcement of a 1 point change to the primary staffing schedule and the introduction of a three point reduction in the number of pupils needed to retain a teacher. For the 2021/22 school year the staffing schedule is on the basis of 1 teacher for every 25 pupils.
The staffing schedule which now stands at a new historical low will help ensure better teacher retention in primary schools while also ensuring that less pupils are required to retain or recruit a teacher.
The latest figures in relation to pupil teacher ratio shows an improved ratio of teachers to pupils from 16:1 to 14.5:1 at primary level when comparing the 2015/16 school year to the 2020/21 school year. Average class sizes improved from 24.9 to 23.3 in the same period. The most recent budget announcement will continue the positive trend of improving class sizes.
Any further improvement will have to be considered in the context of the annual budgetary process.