Dáil Éireann - Volume 655 - 21 May, 2008
Written Answers. - Pupil-Teacher Ratio.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Deputy Bernard J. Durkan
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans to bring pupil-teacher ratios in the classroom into line with the promises made prior to the 2007 general election; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20225/08]
Deputy Batt O’Keeffe Deputy Batt O’Keeffe
 Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: The Programme for Government sets out the overarching policy position in relation to the provision of additional teachers and on reductions in class size over the life of the Government. The Programme contains a commitment to increase the number of primary teachers by at least 4000 and on that basis to make further progress on reducing class sizes.
Budget 2008 provided my Department with €4.6 billion or €380 million extra for teacher pay and pensions. This was a very substantial level of additional investment in the terms of the economic environment on which the budget was based. That allocation provides for paying for over 2000 extra primary teachers more than the number in schools when the Government took office last Summer. It covers the additional teachers that went into schools last September for the previously announced reduction to a 27 to 1 based staffing schedule along with additional teachers this school year and in the coming school year to meet increasing enrolments, to provide for special needs and the language requirements of newcomer children. This means that in terms of the overall commitment to provide at least 4000 additional teachers the Government in its first two years in office will be well ahead of target.
All Programme for Government commitments to improve public services including those relating to class size are contingent on the economic and budgetary environment and the need for prudent expenditure and fiscal management. Even since the presentation of Budget 2008 last December there have been significant alterations in the external and domestic environment. In that context any reasonable observer would regard the fact that the Government has already taken measures that will see the allocation of over 2000 additional teachers to primary schools as a considerable investment all things considered.
Similarly the commitment in relation to improving class size in second level schools can only be looked at and considered in the context of the overall economic and budgetary position that might prevail in the coming years and the competing priorities for available resources.
Dáil Éireann 655 Written Answers. Pupil-Teacher Ratio.