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Primary school pupil-teacher ratio 'to be reduced by one student per class'

The government has promised an average ratio of 25:1.

Halle Langan (8) returning to school in Gardiner Street Primary School in August.
Halle Langan (8) returning to school in Gardiner Street Primary School in August.
Image: Leah Farrell

THE GOVERNMENT HAS pledged that pupil-teacher ratios at primary level will be reduced by an average of one student per class. 

In today’s Budget 2021 speech, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform said this will be achieved by the addition of more teaching posts.  

“I’m delighted to announce today a further reduction in the staffing schedule at primary level by reducing the pupil-teacher ratio by 1 point to 25:1, by providing over 300 mainstream teaching posts,” McGrath said.

This is in addition to over 265 posts I’m providing for to meet demographic pressures across primary and post primary levels. 

McGrath had earlier acknowledged the “huge efforts of our teachers” in facilitating the return to school of students in September. 

On special education needs, the minister also outlined a government pledge to hire 990 extra Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) and 403 additional teaching posts. 

“This will mean that at 18,000 we have more SNAs in schools than ever before and 17,500 special education teachers,” he said. 

Reacting to the government’s plans, primary teachers union the INTO said General Secretary John Boyle said:

 “This is a necessary and welcome commitment from government to begin the process of reducing our class sizes in primary schools. This measure will be of most benefit to the one in five pupils who learn in classes of thirty or more.

While tens of thousands of children will continue to learn in classes above the EU average, we are at least on the right road now. This change will have a positive impact on the primary education landscape.

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“In a normal year, smaller class sizes have a positive impact on pupils learning and development, contributing to better life outcomes. During a pandemic, we had the particular shame of being the only country in the EU to issue guidance for social distancing for a class of thirty or more. Smaller class sizes will make it easier to keep our distance.”

In relation to secondary schools, the minister said he was providing funding to address a shortage of maths, physics and Spanish teachers.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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