Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Ceisteanna (184)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

184. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of pupil-teacher ratios in DEIS band schools; the efforts under way to bring down ratios and ensure smaller class sizes in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49740/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The DEIS programme allows for a reduced class size in Urban Band 1 primary schools with the application of a preferential staffing schedule to these schools of 20:1 at junior classes and 24:1 at senior classes to support those students at the highest risk of educational disadvantage.

Schools in the DEIS Urban Band 2 and Rural bands receive the same allocation under the primary staffing schedule as mainstream schools which now stands at 26:1.

Posts allocated on the basis of the staffing schedule are specifically for mainstream classes and should be deployed accordingly. School authorities are requested to ensure that the number of pupils in any class is kept as low as possible, taking all relevant contextual factors into account. However, school authorities should, where possible, use their autonomy under the staffing schedule to implement smaller class sizes for junior classes. The staffing schudule is available on my Department's website at https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0019_2019.pdf

As the Deputy may be aware, DEIS Plan acknowledges the allocation of teaching resources to DEIS primary schools with the highest concentrations of children at risk of educational disadvantage has served to improve learning outcomes. It also commits to the evaluation of the level of teaching resources for schools participating in DEIS to be undertaken to inform future policy in this area.

In order to facilitate this a Class Size Working Group was established comprising representatives from the Education Partners, the Educational Research Centre and the relevant Business Units in my Department. This group has met on a number of occasions to consider class size in the context of improved learning outcomes of those most at risk of educational disadvantage.

A report on the work of this group is currently being finalised, and will take into consideration the feedback and observations of the working group members. It is intended that this will be finalised in the coming weeks.