Dáil Questions: Education

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Dáil Issues, Education, Oral Questions

Clare raises key INTO demands for a better primary education with Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan. Urgent need to address the worst pupil/teacher ratio/class sizes in the Eurozone, and increase the amount of capitation per student at primary level to ensure all our young people have the best chances in life. Disadvantage in the early years carries through the system.

To the Minister for Education and Science

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will raise capitation at primary level to the same funding as second level schools.
Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 10th June, 2015.
Reference Number: 21862/15

Minister Jan O’Sullivan

It is extremely difficult to make precise comparisons between the levels of grants paid and the actual costs of running schools at primary and post primary levels. However it is self evident that the maintenance and running costs for second level schools are much greater on a unit cost basis than those in primary schools. In general, second level schools are larger than primary schools and have a lower pupil teacher ratio resulting in more classrooms and specialist rooms such as laboratories, workshops and kitchens. This leads to higher unit costs in second level schools for heat, light, power, maintenance
and cleaning.

I do recognize however the need to improve capitation funding for primary schools having regard to the reductions that were necessary over recent years. In the last Budget, I was able to secure the first increase in education spending in recent years. I am determined to continue pressing the case for increased investment in education in the forthcoming budget.

To the Minister for Education and Science

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the reason she has not taken steps to reduce class sizes in primary schools to the EU average as a key priority; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 10th June, 2015.

Minister Jan O’Sullivan

Average class size and the ratio of teachers to students are two important measures of the resources that we make available to schools. While our average class size at primary level is over 3 pupils higher than the OECD average it is only slightly above the OECD average in relation to PTR. My focus in Budget 2015 was on obtaining the additional funding that was necessary to provide for demographic growth which will result in an estimated 1,700 additional teachers and SNAs in our schools in the coming school year. This comes on top of an extra circa 2,300 teachers over the last 2 years.

I announced some improvements in the staffing schedule for small primary schools in February 2015. These are the only changes that I will be making to the staffing arrangements for schools for the 2015/16 school year.
In addressing the INTO Congress earlier this year, I made clear that I
personally believe that improving class sizes could deliver better outcomes, and that reducing class sizes will be a personal and political priority for me during 2015. However, that is a priority that will require negotiation in advance of the forthcoming budget.