The system for allocating teachers to primary schools is based on ensuring an overall maximum class of 29 in each school. Where some classes in a school have class sizes of greater than 29, it is generally because a decision has been taken at local level to use the teaching resources to have smaller numbers in other classes.
The staffing of a primary school is determined by reference to the enrolment of the school on 30 September of the previous school year and by reference to a staffing schedule. This staffing schedule is outlined in primary circular 15/05, which issued to all primary schools recently. This is in line with guidelines agreed between my Department and the education partners.
In the current school year the staffing of the school referred to by the Deputy comprises of a principal and five mainstream class teaching posts. This is based on an enrolment of 148 pupils at 30 September 2003. The school also has a full-time resource post and the services of a learning support post based in the school. The staffing of the school for the 2005-06 school year will consist of a principal and four mainstream class teaching posts. This is based on an enrolment of 144 pupils at 30 September 2004.
To ensure openness and transparency in the system an independent appeals board is now in place to decide on any appeals. The criteria under which an appeal can be made are set out in Department primary circular 19/02, which is also available on my Department's website. The appeals board will meet in June, July and October to consider appeals on the mainstream teaching allocation to schools for the 2005-06 school year.
The closing dates for appeals are 3 June, 24 June and 7 October. Appeals must be submitted to primary payments section, Department of Education and Science, Athlone, on the standard application form, clearly stating the criterion under which the appeal is being made. It would not be appropriate for me to intervene in the operation of the independent appeals board.
My Department has now completed its review of the general allocation system of resource teaching support. I can confirm that 660 additional special needs teaching posts will be put in place in primary schools from next September to facilitate the implementation of the new general allocation system. The introduction of this new system will involve the provision of an estimated additional 340 permanent posts in primary schools from September next. A further 320 posts are being provided on a temporary basis to facilitate the transition to the new system.
My Department has now devised school clusters in respect of allocations to be made under the general allocation system. These have been notified to schools together with the details of each school's individual allocation. This communication clarifies the position regarding the resource and learning support allocation available to each school. My Department is also finalising a circular for schools which will contain detailed information on how the new system will operate. It is intended that this circular will issue before the end of the current school year.