Dáil Éireann - Volume 541 - 09 October, 2001
Written Answers. - Pupil-Teacher Ratio.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
538. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the way in which pupil-teacher ratios in this country compare with the best in Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23279/01]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): The table below provides data on pupil-teacher ratios at primary and second level in 1998-99 in European countries for which comparable information is readily available. The country means at OECD, European and EU levels are also provided. Although the pupil-teacher ratio in Ireland is still above the average for European or OECD countries at primary level, it has fallen very significantly at this level over the past decade leading to a considerable narrowing of the gap with the rest of Europe and the OECD.  Moreover, at second level, the pupil-teacher ratio is now at the OECD average having fallen gradually over recent years.
In line with Government policy, my Department will continue to provide for further reductions in the pupil-teacher ratio within available resources and subject to spending priorities within the education sector. Priority will be given to pupils with special needs and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Since 1998-99, the pupil-teacher ratio has been further reduced at primary level to just under 20:1. Evidence from research on the impact of class size on pupil learning outcomes indicates that, while class size is likely to be of some importance especially where classes are very big, other strategies are also needed to help learning, including investment in quality teaching practice, home-school-community links and school organisation and management.
Ratio of students to Teaching Staff in some
European Countries (1998/99)
For all types of institutions
(based on full-time equivalents)
*for which data are available.
**data are not available.
Source: Education at a Glance, OECD Indicators, 2001
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
539. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the extent to which he intends to improve pupil-teacher ratios at primary and post-primary levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23280/01]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): At second level, the Deputy will be aware that an additional 1,000 posts were created in the last school year. A proportion of these  posts was utilised to facilitate the reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio for appointment purposes from 19:1 to 18:1. The balance was targeted at particular programmes such as the leaving certificate applied, the junior certificate school programme and the stay in school retention initiative. Since this Government came into office, the pupil-teacher ratio at second level has been reduced from approximately 16:1 to under 15:1 in the last school year.
In accordance with the provisions of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, an additional 200 posts are being created at second level in the current school year and a further 200 posts will be created next year. This increase in posts, combined with an anticipated fall in enrolments, will result in further reductions in the pupil-teacher ratio in the sector.
The pupil-teacher ratio for primary schools has been reduced from 22.2:1 in the 1996-97 school year to 19.6:1 in the 2000-01 school year. The retention of posts arising from the demographic dividend in the 2000-01 school year, the creation of an additional 350 posts under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness for the 2001-02 school year and the granting of additional resource posts for children with special needs has further reduced the PTR. It is now projected that the PTR for the 2001-02 school year will be 19.0:1. Furthermore, under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness it is proposed to appoint an additional 550 primary teachers between the 2002-03 and 2003-04 school years.
Dáil Éireann 541 Written Answers. Pupil-Teacher Ratio.