Fianna Fáil has warned that failure to act on spiralling class sizes will result in a major deterioration of education outcomes.
The party’s Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue is calling on the Government to commit to reducing class sizes in next year’s Budget. It follows reports that a quarter of all classrooms now have more than 30 pupils.
“It is completely unacceptable that a quarter of all classrooms now breach the already too high pupil teacher ratio of 28-1. Some classes have spiralled as high as 42 pupils to one teacher. There is absolutely no doubt that children stuck in these supersized classrooms are suffering a lower standard of learning despite the very best effort of teachers,” said Deputy McConalogue.
“Irish class sizes are the second largest in the EU and among the largest in the OECD. There is ample evidence that the larger the class size, the poorer the outcomes for all children regardless of their ability. The best teacher in the world is powerless to create an optimum learning environment with so many pupils of varying standards, needs and interests.
“Failure to address this problem would represent a major step backwards for the Irish education system. This is very simple. Class sizes are getting larger and we need more teachers. The same schools in areas of growing population are being expected to take on more pupils every year without the additional resources they need. Small schools have also been hit with cuts to the PTR. And all of this is happening at a time when supports for children with special needs have suffered successive cuts, creating a ripple effect right across the primary school system.
“I am calling for a commitment to reduce class sizes in next year’s budget. This is an investment in our future. The Minister has an opportunity this week to make such a commitment when she attends the INTO’s annual conference. She cannot stand by and allow class sizes to continue to spiral out of control.”