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Written Answers - School Closures

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 752 No. 2

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 46.  Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the criteria governing his decision to close small schools. [2971/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn There has been no decision to close small schools. However, the reality is that the staffing schedule at primary level disproportionately benefits small primary schools.

It is worth noting that we have 3,200 primary schools across Ireland. Over two thirds of those schools have more than 86 pupils and, as a result, have far higher average class sizes than all of the schools affected by this measure. For example a two teacher school with 32 pupils has an average class size of 1 teacher for 16 pupils. In contrast, a typical ten teacher school with 272 pupils has an average class size of 27.2 pupils.

[308]For that reason, as part of the Budget 2012 decisions, the number of pupils required to gain and retain a classroom teaching post in small primary schools will be gradually increased between September 2012 and September 2014. Even when all of these phased increases are implemented, the threshold for small schools will still be significantly lower than the minimum of 28 pupils that were required for the appointment of the second teacher in schools prior to the mid 1990’s. I wish to remind the Deputy that there were no forced closures of schools when the staffing schedule operated at the levels set in the 1990s so it is incorrect to say this will happen when we implement all of these phased increases.

This budget measure must be seen in the context of the major challenges we have as a Government in trying to shelter public services to the greatest extent that we can in these exceptional times.

The phasing of these measures can provide the schools concerned with time to consider the potential for amalgamation with other schools where this is feasible and only where communities chose to do so.


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