Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills, Thomas Byrne, has said that the State is failing the 1 in 5 primary school pupils, approximately 130,000 children, currently being taught in ‘supersize’ classes of 30 to 40 students.

“It beggars belief that Minister Bruton’s keystone ‘Action Plan’ for the education sector contains no actions to ease the burden on schools with ‘super-sized’ classes.

“While average class sizes in Ireland are higher than the EU average, when we factor in the high number of small rural schools, the figures get even worse.

“Last year, when Fianna Fáil entered into a Confidence and Supply arrangement with Fine Gael, we demanded that reducing class sizes, especially for children under 9 years of age, must be a priority.

“Fianna Fáil expects Minister Bruton, and the Government, to make good on this commitment in Budget 2018.

“It is very concerning that a child’s likelihood of being in an overcrowded classroom is dependent on where they live.

“Children in counties such as Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Wicklow, Cork and Wexford are suffering far more than other parts of the country, and Minister Bruton must approach these issues in a targeted way to reduce class sizes over the next number of school years.

“We need to move away from using ‘pupil teacher ratio’ as a metric of determining overcrowding in our school system as it is only a description of the staffing schedule. A much better metric would be looking at average class size.

“The Minister must come forward with a funded strategy to bring about a scenario where no school child is in a class with more than 22 or 23 other children.

“It’s in this type of environment with quality resources and well trained teachers that children develop best in,” concluded Byrne.