Written Answers - Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Wednesday, 14 December 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 612 No. 72

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  329.  Mr. Wall  Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin   the average national class size in both primary and secondary schools here for each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39644/05]

Minister for Education and Science (Ms Hanafin): Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  The most recent data on average class size in primary schools are as follows.

Year Average Class Size
2000/01 24.5
2001/02 24.2
2002/03 24.0
2003/04 23.9
2004/05 23.9

At post-primary level it is more appropriate to consider pupil-teacher ratio.

The most recent data are as follows:

2000/01 14.3
2001/02 13.9
2002/03 13.7
2003/04 13.6
2004/05 13.4

The Deputy should note that major improvements in school staffing have been made in recent [1097]years with the hiring of more than 5,000 additional primary teachers. This represents the largest increase in teacher numbers since the expansion of free education. The annual estimated value of the additional expenditure on these posts is over €200 million. In 1996-97, the average class size in our primary schools was 27. It is now 24. In 1996-97 there was one teacher for every 22 children in our primary schools. Today there is one teacher for every 17 children, the lowest pupil-teacher ratio in the history of the State.

Significant improvements have also been made in the pupil-teacher ratio at post-primary level in recent years. The ratio has fallen from 16:1 in the 1996-97 school year to 13.4:1 in 2004-05. Aside from decreasing average class size, the unprecedented increase in school staffing in recent years has also greatly improved the services provided for children with special needs and those from disadvantaged areas. Under the action plan for tackling disadvantage published earlier this year, there will be a reduction in class sizes of 24:1 at senior level and 20:1 at junior level in 150 primary schools serving communities with the highest concentrations of disadvantage. With more than 600 extra resource teachers put in place this term, children with special needs are getting more support than ever before. It should be acknowledged how much progress has been made in this area in recent years.

There is more to be done to reduce class sizes further. Recently I announced that I have secured sufficient funding to provide even smaller classes in our primary schools in the next school year, and the Minister for Finance has committed to a further reduction in class size in the following year. Accordingly, over the next two years, my Department will put 500 extra teachers into primary schools to reduce class size and to tackle disadvantage. We have consistently said that priority would be given in the first instance to children in disadvantaged schools and those with special needs. We have done this. Now, in line with the Government commitment, mainstream class sizes are also being reduced.

  330.  Mr. Timmins  Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin   the pupil-teacher ratio for schools (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39649/05]

Minister for Education and Science (Ms Hanafin): Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  The most recent data on pupil-teacher ratio available to my Department relate to the 2004-05 school year. The Deputy was already provided with the information he is now seeking in reply to Question No. 311 on 5 October 2005. Information on the current school year is not yet available.

The Deputy should note that major improvements in school staffing have been made in recent [1098]years with the hiring of more than 5,000 additional primary teachers. This represents the largest increase in teacher numbers since the expansion of free education. The annual estimated value of the additional expenditure on these posts is over €200 million.

In 1996-97 the average class size in our primary schools was 27. It is now 24. In 1996-97 there was one teacher for every 22 children in our primary schools. Today there is one teacher for every 17 children, the lowest pupil-teacher ratio in the history of the State.

Aside from decreasing average class size, the unprecedented increase in school staffing in recent years has also greatly improved the services provided for children with special needs and those from disadvantaged areas. Under the action plan for tackling disadvantage published earlier this year, there will be a reduction in class sizes of 24:1 at senior level and 20:1 at junior level in 150 primary schools serving communities with the highest concentrations of disadvantage. With more than 600 extra resource teachers put in place this term, children with special needs are getting more support than ever before. It should be acknowledged how much progress has been made in this area in recent years.

There is more to be done to reduce class sizes further. Recently I announced that I have secured sufficient funding to provide even smaller classes in our primary schools in the next school year, and the Minister for Finance has committed to a further reduction in class size in the following year. Accordingly, over the next two years, my Department will put 500 extra teachers into our schools to reduce class size and to tackle disadvantage. We have consistently said that priority would be given in the first instance to children in disadvantaged schools and those with special needs. We have done this. Now, in line with the Government commitment, mainstream class sizes are also being reduced.


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