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19 Aug 2022

Department of Education responds to finding that County Kildare class sizes are the largest in the country

Department of Education responds to finding that County Kildare class sizes are the largest in the country

The initial announcement was made on Monday, July 4. Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

The Department of Education has responded to recently-released data which showed that County Kildare class sizes are the largest in the country.

On Monday, July 4, Minister Norma Foley revealed the news that in Kildare, there is an average classroom size of 24.7 pupils per teacher.

Commuter counties around Dublin have the largest primary level classrooms in the country, while Mayo has the smallest at 20.9 pupils per teacher at primary school level: however, they are still above European averages.

The average class size in Irish primary schools is 24 per class, compared to the EU average of 20 pupils per class and an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 21 pupils.

'COMMITMENT TO SEEK FURTHER PROGRESS'

Speaking to the Leinster Leader, a spokesperson for the Dept said that under the Programme for Government, there is a commitment to seek to make further progress in reducing the pupil teacher ratios in primary schools. 

They explained: "At primary level, the annual staffing schedule determines the allocation of teachers to schools. 

"The staffing schedule has been improved under both Budgets in the past two years."

The spokesperson also said that for the 2022/23 school year, the staffing schedule for primary schools has been improved by one point, and schools will be provided with class teachers on the basis of one teacher for every 24 pupils.

"This means that our primary schools will be staffed at the most favourable level ever seen in September," they added.

PUPIL-TEACHER RATIO

In addition, the spokesperson said that lower thresholds apply to DEIS Urban Band 1 schools giving a class size of 19:1 in junior schools, 21:1 in vertical schools (schools with junior and senior classes) and 23:1 in senior schools (The DEIS programme serves over 180,000 students annually and this will increase to 240,000 from September).

The spokesperson elaborated: "1,750 additional posts in schools are being provided in the 2022/23 school year, including 1,330 teaching posts to cater for a reduction in pupil teacher ratio and additional teachers in special education; this builds on a similar one point reduction in Budget 2021, which supported the creation of 1,065 posts.

"Budget 22 also provided lower staffing retention levels for all primary schools."

LATEST FIGURES

Explaining how the latest figures were calculated, they said: "The latest figures, which are in relation to pupil teacher ratio (which calculates the number of pupils in a school as a ratio of the total number of teachers employed in the school, including class teachers, special education teachers, etc.), shows an improved ratio of teachers to pupils from 16:1 to 14.5:1 at primary level when comparing the 2015/16 school year to the 2020/21 school year.  

"This compares favourably with the OECD pupil teacher ratio which is 1:15. In the same period the staffing schedule improved from 28:1 to 25:1 for this school year.

"Average class sizes improved from 24.9 to 23.3 in the same period."

The spokesperson concluded: "The most recent budget announcement will continue the positive trend of improving class sizes, and statistics on this will be published later in the year."

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