5 August 2022
By Tom Collins
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD says that figures showing that there were 2,120 primary school classes across the state with 30 pupils or more in the academic year 2021-2022, underline the need for increased investment in our education system in the upcoming budget.
Deputy Ó Laoghaire said:
“Too many of our children’s quality of education is being affected by high class sizes. There are countless classes that are far too big, in buildings too small, and not fit for purpose and I urge the Minister to urgently address this issue.
“In Cork County, there were 208 classes with 30 pupils or more, these large numbers have also been seen in South Dublin County Council (142) Galway County Council (108), Meath (113), Limerick (106). These figures are shocking.
“Some of these classes are absolutely enormous and would clearly put teachers and students under severe pressure, in 2021 there were classes with as much as 37 pupils in Louth, Mayo, Meath, Offaly and Wexford. Classes of 38 pupils in Cork County Council, Limerick, Galway City Council and Laois. Classes with 39 pupils in Monaghan. This is simply unacceptable.
“Sinn Féin wants to abolish all classes of over 30 kids and never allow them to return, and work towards attaining the EU average of 20 children per class.
“The Minister has an historic opportunity to introduce a two-point reduction in average class size in a single year. The Minister has an opportunity to do this by sufficiently investing in our Education system in the upcoming budget and to make progress in reducing class sizes to the EU average.
“The INTO is campaigning for a two-point reduction in average class size in a single year, I urge the Minister to listen to this and to work towards reducing our primary school class sizes in line with the EU average.
“Evidence shows that pupils do better and are better served with smaller class sizes.
“The complexity of the contemporary classroom is such that, with larger class sizes, teachers find it challenging to meet the broad spectrum of needs children now present with.
“When class numbers are more reasonable, modern teaching methods work more effectively, and teachers can spend the time needed with children. This is particularly important for children with additional needs and those from disadvantaged communities.
“Sinn Féin in Government would reduce the pupil/teacher ratio in primary schools to the EU average of 20 children per class by September 2024, we would build additional classroom space required to implement reduced ratio and facilitate smaller class sizes.
“A two point reduction to the pupil-teacher ratio in each of the next 2 years would cost €62m in total, €31m per year.
“These are the changes and actions that the Government should be taking now, it is time to invest sufficiently in our Education system. Children can’t wait. Our children deserve the best in term of their education and currently they are not getting the quality of education that they need and deserve.”