Dáil Éireann - Volume 607 - 11 October, 2005
Written Answers. - Pupil-Teacher Ratio.
Ms Enright Ms Enright
391. Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps she will take to ensure the programme for Government commitment to reduce class sizes will be met by 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27798/05]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin: Significant improvements have been made in the pupil-teacher ratio and in average class size in recent years at primary level. The most recent figure available for average class size at primary level refers to the 2003-04 school year, when the average class size was 23.9, down from 26.6 in 1996-97. The pupil-teacher ratio at primary level, which includes resource teachers,  has fallen from 22.2:1 in the 1996-97 school year to a projected 17.1:1 in 2004-05. At post-primary level the pupil-teacher ratio has fallen from 16:1 in the 1996-97 school year to 13.6:1 in the 2003-04 school year.
More than 4,500 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 provide additional resources for pupils with special educational needs. The additional teaching posts created since 1997 have been deployed to address all these priorities.
In regard to providing for children with special educational needs, there are now more than 5,000 teachers in our primary schools working directly with children with special needs, including those requiring learning support. This compares to less than 1,500 in 1998. Now, one out of every five primary school teachers works specifically with children with special needs.
The Deputy will be aware of the new action plan for educational inclusion, delivering equality of opportunity in schools, DEIS, which I launched recently. This action plan will result in the reduction in class sizes to 24:1 at senior level and 20:1 at junior level in 150 primary schools serving communities with the highest concentrations of disadvantage. In line with the commitment in the programme for Government, class sizes will be reduced still further. The deployment of additional posts will be decided within the context of the overall policy that priority will be given to pupils with special needs, those from disadvantaged areas and junior classes.
Dáil Éireann 607 Written Answers. Pupil-Teacher Ratio.