Sinn Féin have published a Dáil motion calling on the government to immediately begin the process of drastically reducing school class sizes.
The motion, which will be debated in the Dáil during Sinn Féin’s private members time on Tuesday night, also calls on the government to ensure that the roadmap to reopen schools is adequately resourced and that there is a dedicated strategy to support students who have fallen behind in recent months.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that the government need to learn the lessons of the Covid-19 crisis and to reduce class sizes once and for all.
“While no one could have predicted the Covid-19 pandemic, it is an obvious fact that reopening schools has been particularly challenging because we have some of the highest class sizes in Europe.
“The failure of successive governments to tackle the issue has put us in a particularly vulnerable position, with many schools stretched close to breaking point prior to the pandemic. It has also resulted in schools being understaffed and deprived of basic resources.
“We are using our private members time in the Dáil next week to call time on overcrowded classrooms and to begin immediately and drastically reducing class sizes. We must abolish the days of class sizes of 30+ students.
“It has been over four months since schools closed and we still have not had sight of any roadmap for reopening.
“Investment will be crucial. It is scandalous that some schools still do not have reliable hot running water in their buildings and this motion will compel the government to ensure that schools have the resources they need in terms of staffing levels, hygiene and space to safely reopen.
“We await Monday’s announcement of a roadmap – but we have been here before and a roadmap has not arrived; leaving parents and school staff deeply worried
“We are also very aware that despite everyone’s best efforts many children have fallen back in recent months. That is why we have proposed a dedicated strategy to prioritise those who have lost out most; including additional support for Special Education, Special Education Teachers, SNAs, as well as investment in Home School Community Liaison, Guidance Counsellors and School Completion
“We are in this situation of uncertainty and worry for parents because of a failure to plan by this government and a failure to invest by successive governments. Tackling out of control class sizes must be a key priority in the time ahead.”