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Written Answers - School Staffing

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 752 No. 2

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 90.  Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if he will give urgent consideration to a request made directly to him by a board of management (details supplied) in relation to the need for this school to retain its staffing complement as outlined in the detailed letter forwarded to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3100/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I am aware of the correspondence referred to by the Deputy. The staffing schedule at primary level disproportionally benefits small primary schools. It is worth noting that we have 3,200 primary schools across Ireland. [327]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 sixteen pupils. In contrast, a typical ten 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.

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 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. The announcement I made on the 11th January in relation to my Department reporting to me within four weeks refers only to the impact of the withdrawal of certain posts allocated under previous disadvantaged schemes in DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 primary schools.

This report will detail the facts for each individual school affected by this measure, applying the most up to date enrolments for September 2011. In addition, the report will take account of the net effect of a range of factors on teacher allocations in these schools, for example increasing and decreasing enrolments and the reforms to the existing teacher allocations process, all of which will determine the staffing requirement for these schools for 2012/13 school year.

It is only when this report is made available to me that I will be in a position to make a decision on the final outcome for the individual schools involved. The school referred to by the Deputy is a DEIS rural primary school and will continue to receive the following supports: — additional capitation funding based on level of disadvantage. — additional funding for schools books. — access to the School Meals Programme — access to numeracy/literacy supports and measures. — access to planning supports. — access to a range of professional development supports.

Question No. 91 answered with Question No. 34.

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