I propose to take Questions Nos. 412 to 414, inclusive, together.
The pupil-teacher ratios at both primary and second level have improved significantly in recent years. At primary level, the ratio has been reduced from 22.2:1 in 1996-97 to 19:1 in the 2001-02 school year. At second level the ratio has been reduced from 16:1 to 14:1 in the same period. The projected ratios for primary and second level schools for the current school year are 18.4:1 and 13.6:1 respectively.
In line with Government policy, my Department will continue to provide targeted improvements in the education sector within the limitations of resource availability. Teacher allocations to individual schools are based on nationally applicable criteria which reflect the prevailing ratios and ex-quota allocations which have reqard to the needs of schools. These criteria are notified to all school authorities and are also published on my Department's website. I have also established independent appeal boards to consider appeals under specified criteria from individual school authorities in regard to teacher allocations. A breakdown of prevailing pupil-teacher ratios on a county basis is not readily available in my Department.