Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has said figures showing almost a third of children in some parts of the country are now in classes of more than 30 demonstrate that the education sector cannot absorb any more cuts and the need for it to be protected in the upcoming budget.

Deputy McConalogue commented: “We need investment in education and it’s clear the Government is not taking the crisis facing schools seriously.  The pressure in schools in commuter counties needs particular attention and this will likely increase in the years ahead.  10,000 more pupils entered primary schools this year than September last year and the number of children in classes of more than 30 has increased by 24,000 since the 2010/2011 school year.

“These figures come as Minister Quinn has warned that cuts in education could run to €100m in next month’s budget.  This is more than double the level of cuts originally targeted and would have a devastating impact on frontline education resources.

“The landscape in the education sector is very worrying at the moment.  At primary level the increase in class sizes takes Ireland further away from the EU average of 20 while children with special needs have been the worst affected by Minister Quinn’s failure to provide the level of SNA supports needed to meet increased demand.  Meanwhile at secondary level there are fewer teachers in the system and the loss of guidance counsellors is having a very negative impact.

“What Minister Quinn seems utterly incapable of understanding is that the system can’t take any more cuts.  He needs to ensure education is protected in next month’s budget and that our children don’t suffer at the hands of Fine Gael and Labour’s reckless cuts.”