1st March 2021
Ahead of Budget 2021, the INTO and our members campaigned and lobbied for a reduction in class sizes in all primary schools to move Ireland towards the EU average of 20 pupils in a class.
Budget 2021 included a general reduction in the mainstream staffing schedule to 25:1 and a reduction of one pupil per class in DEIS Band One Senior National Schools. Corresponding reductions were not announced for infant, junior or vertical Urban Band 1 DEIS schools with the government claiming they were already allocated a preferential staffing schedule.
The INTO has engaged intensively with the Department of Education since October, meeting with senior Department officials and contacting the Minister directly and called on members to email their TDs to demand the reduction of class sizes in all DEIS Band One Schools.
This morning, Minister for Education Norma Foley TD has announced a one-point reduction in the staffing schedule to reduce class-size in all DEIS Urban Band 1 schools. The reduction of class size in all Urban Band 1 schools is estimated to require an additional 50 teaching posts and have a full year cost in the region of €2.45 million. The INTO welcomes this change to the original 2021 staffing proposals by the Minister and her Department.
In addition to the issue of class sizes, the Minister for Education has also heeded the request of this union and has:
- Extended the School Completion Programme to include 14 urban primary schools included in DEIS in 2017.
- Agreed to a 5% increase in funding for the School Completion Programme to support the attendance and participation of vulnerable learners and those at risk of educational disadvantage.
INTO President Mary Magner said:
Prior to the last budget, the issue of class sizes was well covered in press and political circles. A failure to tackle this issue consistently for many years meant Irish primary schools had the largest class sizes in the EU. In the midst of a pandemic, it was Ireland’s shame to be the only country in the continent that had to plan for public health measures in a class of thirty or more pupils.
It is only fair that the class size reduction we secured should be extended to our most disadvantaged schools. I welcome the decision taken by the Minister for Education to reduce class size in all DEIS Band One schools from next September and thank members for their diligent work in recent weeks to push for this.
The INTO will continue its campaign for Irish class sizes to reach the European average of 20 with pro-rata decreases for our most disadvantaged schools
Please note the following documents: