Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has welcomes a campaign by The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) to reduce class sizes in Ireland in the forthcoming budget.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire described the campaign, which was launched today, as “timely and very necessary”.
The Cork South Central TD said:
“It is clear that the return to school has been made all the more difficult because our education system is underfunded, understaffed, and overcrowded. There are countless classes that are far too big, in buildings too small and not fit for purpose.
“It is our large class sizes that have made reopening so difficult. According to figures released to me, over 1,300 primary schools across the country have classes of over 30 kids.
“That equates to one in every five children in a class of over 30. Given the large class sizes, coupled with historically small classrooms, it is no wonder that many schools have struggled to find space to implement social distancing.
“The first step in ensuring that educational standards and safety protocols can be maintained, is by drastically reducing class sizes down to the EU average of 20. In July, Sinn Féin put forward a Motion which would have committed the Government to doing just that, but it was rejected outright by the government parties.
“If ever there was a time to tackle this issue, it is now. This is why in our policy document, ‘Keeping Schools Open’, we committed to working towards reducing the pupil-teacher ratio to 20:1 at a cost of €72million, beginning with classes of over 30 kids.
“We can never again allow our education system to become so vulnerable to disruption as it has proven to be in the past few months. If the Government wants schools to remain open safely and sustainably, reducing class sizes is one of the key ingredients.”