Dáil Éireann - Volume 603 - 14 June, 2005
Written Answers. - Pupil-Teacher Ratio.
Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin
134. Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Education and Science the timetable for meeting the commitment on class sizes given in An Agreed Programme for Government within the lifetime of this administration; if she will put in place the steps needed to ensure the recruitment of the additional teachers and the provision of the extra classrooms required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19667/05]
Mr. Naughten Mr. Naughten
768. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps she is taking to deliver on the commitment in the programme for Government to introduce class sizes of 20 pupils to one teacher; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19790/05]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin:I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 768 together.
 Significant improvements have been made in the pupil teacher ratio and in average class size in recent years. The average class size at primary level is now 23.9, down from 26.6 in 1996-97. The pupil teacher ratio, which includes all the teachers including resource teachers, has fallen from 22.2:1 in the 1996-97 school year to 17.44:1 in 2003-04. Over 4,000 additional teachers have been employed in our primary schools since 1997. In allocating teaching posts regard has been had to the commitments of the Government to reduce class size, tackle educational disadvantage and to provide additional resources for pupils with special educational needs. The additional teaching posts created since 1997 have been deployed to address all of these priorities.
The Deputies will be aware that a review of the allocation system of teaching support for pupils with special educational needs was recently completed. Arising from that review a new model has been introduced to replace that which was notified to schools in June 2004. The introduction of this new system will involve the provision of an estimated additional 340 permanent posts in primary schools from September next. A further 320 posts are being provided on a temporary basis to facilitate the transition to the new system and to ensure continuity of service for children who have previously been given an individual allocation until those children leave the primary school system. The new system will greatly benefit schools and the children in schools that need additional support.
The Deputies will also be aware of the new action plan for educational inclusion, DEIS — Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools — which I launched recently. This action plan will result in reduced class sizes in schools serving the most disadvantaged communities to 24:1 at senior level and 20:1 at junior level. In line with Government policy, my Department will continue to provide further reductions in the pupil teacher ratio, with priority given to pupils with special needs, those from disadvantaged areas and those in junior classes.
Each year my Department decides on the number of places to be provided on the teacher training programmes, both in respect of school leavers and post graduate applicants, in the colleges of education having regard to the projected demand for qualified primary teachers. This process will continue in the future.
Any requirement for additional accommodation arising from the creation of additional teaching posts will be considered in the context of the school building and modernisation programme.
Dáil Éireann 603 Written Answers. Pupil-Teacher Ratio.