Ceist Pharlaiminte

Chun an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíoctha
To the Minister for Education and Science

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her plans to deal with class
teaching resources for schools with pupils in schools of class size range 30 to
34 and 35 to 39; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– Joe Carey.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 30th June, 2015.
Reference Number: 25957/15


Minister Jan O’Sullivan

The criteria used for the allocation of teaching posts is published annually on
the Department website. The key factor for determining the level of staffing
resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the
relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September.

The staffing schedule operates in a clear and transparent manner and treats all
similar types of schools equally irrespective of location. The primary staffing
schedule currently operates on the basis of a general average of 1 classroom
teacher for every 28 pupils, with lower thresholds for DEIS Band 1 schools.

The configuration of classes and the deployment of classroom teachers are done
at local school level. My Department’s guidance to schools is that the number
of pupils in any class is kept as low as possible taking all relevant
contextual factors into account (e.g. classroom accommodation, fluctuating
enrolment etc.). School authorities are also requested, where possible, to use
their autonomy under the staffing schedule to implement smaller class sizes for
junior classes.

The Staffing Schedule includes the provision where schools experiencing rapid
increases in enrolment can apply for additional permanent mainstream posts on
developing grounds.   The staffing process includes an appeals mechanism for
schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals
Board. This process includes a provision in which schools that are not gaining
an additional teaching post under the developing schools criterion can submit
an appeal to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board. This appeal criterion is
targeted at those schools that make a significant contribution to the provision
of school places and so assist the response to demographic growth within their
area and, as a result, are under significant pressure on their class sizes at
infants level.

My focus in Budget 2015 was on obtaining the additional funding that was
necessary to provide for demographic growth. The last Budget included an
increase in spending on education for the first time in recent years, amounting
to additional funding of €60m during 2015. This funding will be used to provide
1,700 additional teachers and SNAs for our schools, as well as to fund
prioritised reforms, such as implementation of the literacy and numeracy
strategy, reform of junior cycle, and the introduction of education focused
pre-school inspections.

The Government’s approach to restoring the economy has helped Ireland to return
to a position where we are seeing economic growth. It is a continuing
improvement in our economic growth over a sustained period that will enable us
to move to a point where we can look again at providing for additional teacher
resources in schools which could bring about further improvement in PTR, class
size and support for classroom teachers.

The challenge for all schools is to ensure that they utilise their allocated
resources to best effect to maximise