Sinn Féin TD Patricia Ryan TD has expressed her concern at new figures coming out of the Department of Education, showing class sizes as large as 45 students in some parts of the country.
Teachta Ryan said: “It is clear that overcrowding in classrooms is a huge problem. New figures show that the median class size in 2019 was 25 students. Kildare’s median class size is 26. The EU average is 20 students per class. Classes in Wicklow and Kerry had up to 39 and 38 children respectively, whilst schools in Galway, Limerick, Louth and Meath were not far behind, with up to 37 kids sharing one classroom.
“Schools in Kildare had up to 35 kids in the classroom, while in Westmeath there was a shocking 45 kids in one class last year.
“The reality is that the planning for a return to school in less than three weeks’ time is being made more difficult because we have the highest class sizes in Europe. The Government failed to tackle this in its plans for the reopening of schools, whilst 1 in every 5 primary school children here is in a class of over 30. There are countless classes that are far too big, in buildings too small, and not fit for purpose.
“The first step in ensuring that educational standards and safety protocols are maintained, is by drastically reducing class sizes down to the EU average of 20. It is extremely disappointing, then, that the government parties voted against our Private Members’ Motion last week that would have committed the Government to doing just that.
“If there ever was a time to tackle this issue, surely this is it. To start, all classes of over 30 kids should be abolished, and never allowed to return.
“The Government must immediately undertake an audit of class sizes across the country, and work to address this issue sooner rather than later.”