Smaller primary classes will be delivered in Budget

The size of primary classes will decrease next September, tomorrow’s budget will announce.

This is the second year in a row that class sizes will be reduced in a slow but steady movement to relieve the most crowded classrooms in the EU.

The budget will also see an increase of over 1,000 special needs assistants and over 400 special education teachers to keep pace with the demand for resources in this area.

Reducing class sizes will mean increasing the pupil / teacher ratio and reducing the average class size below 24: 1. It currently sits at 25: 1.

Class sizes in Ireland will still be above the international average of 20: 1 in the EU and 21: 1 in the developed world, but will go in the right direction.

There will be a ready supply of teachers to fill the new positions as primary school enrollment shrinks and smaller classes offer opportunities to keep jobs.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has made smaller primary classes one of his election promises in 2020.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organization (INTO) has long campaigned for a reduction to 20: 1 to improve proof of educational service to children.

In addition to the educational benefits, especially for younger students, the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted practical public health reasons for smaller classes.

Last year 85% of primary schoolchildren in Ireland attended classes above the European average and 14% of pupils were in oversized classrooms of over 30 pupils.

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