Thursday, 23 September 2021

Questions (135)

Sorca Clarke


135. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Education her plans to reduce the average class size for primary schools considering the growing population and the extra demands on space due to Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45588/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the Programme for Government there is a commitment to seek to make further progress in reducing the pupil teacher ratios in primary 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 classroom teacher for every 25 pupils. This is the lowest pupil teacher ratio ever at primary school.

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. This compares favourably with the OECD pupil teacher ratio which is 1:15. 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 for this school year, and statistics on this will be published later in the year. Enrolments are projected to fall over the coming years before stabilising and rising marginally in the next decade.

Any further improvement will have to be considered in the context of the annual budgetary process.