Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has expressed his concern at figures from the Department of Education, showing class sizes as large as 45 students in some parts of the country.
“It is clear that overcrowding in classrooms is a huge problem. Figures provided to me via a recent Parliamentary Question show that the median class size in 2019 was 25 students. 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 Cork had up to 40 kids in the classroom, while in Westmeath there was a shocking 45 kids in one class last year.
“The reality is that the plan to reopen schools has been made more difficult because we have some of the highest class sizes in Europe. The government has failed to tackle this in its plans for the reopening of schools. 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.
“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, so that schools can remain open in a safe and sustainable way in the coming months.”