Thursday, 10 March 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
201. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the concerns of parents and teachers at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 11 regarding the imminent staffing shortages for the 2005 to 2006 school year; if her Department has conducted a study or review into the impact of the loss of a teacher to the school; if her attention has further been drawn to the fact that it will lead to split classes with 32 pupils each in three junior classes; if this contradicts the commitment in the programme for Government to ensure that the average pupil-teacher ratio in classes of children under nine years will be the international best practice guidelines of 20:1; and the reason one of the 1,600 teachers due to graduate in June 2005 cannot be allocated to this school. [8496/05]
Minister for Education and Science (Ms Hanafin): The mainstream staffing of a primary school is determined by applying the enrolment of the school on 30 September of the previous school year to a staffing schedule agreed between my Department and the education partners.
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. My Department will finalise the staffing schedule for the 2005 to 2006 school year shortly and thereafter notify school boards of management.
According to data submitted to my Department by the board of management, the enrolment on 30 September 2004 in the school refered to by the Deputy was 439 pupils. The staffing for the 2005 to 2006 school year will be determined on the basis of this figure and in accordance with the agreed staffing schedule.
Significant improvements have been made in the pupil-teacher ratio at primary level in recent years. The ratio has fallen from 22.2:1 in the 1996 to 1997 school year to 17.44:1 in the 2003 to 2004 school year. In line with Government policy my Department will continue to provide further reductions in the pupil-teacher ratio within available resources and subject to spending priorities within the education sector. Priority will be given to pupils with special needs, those from disadvantaged areas and those in junior classes.
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