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Written Answers - Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 752 No. 2

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 87.  Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if he will defer any reduction in pupil teacher ratio for schools of under 86 pupils until a substantial review takes place. [3022/12]

 93.  Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if his attention has been drawn to the impact that changes to the staffing schedule in small schools 2012 will have on many rural communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3147/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 87 and 93 together.

The staffing schedule at primary level disproportionally 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 10 teacher school with 272 pupils has an average class size of 27.2 pupils. It is important to retain a sense of perspective and balance when discussing this matter and to realise the exceptionally favourable supports my Department will continue to provide for small schools.

[325]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.

While I acknowledge the concerns raised by the Deputies the 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.

If amalgamations do take place, they will be voluntary and follow decisions taken by local communities and not by my Department.


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