10th September 2021
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) recently launched our Budget 2022 campaign setting out our priorities for primary education ahead of Budget 2022, due to be announced on 12 October. Every single member (and parent) can play a role in helping us to secure critical investment in our schools.
While teachers have long been aware of the impact of class size on teaching and learning, the pandemic experience of the past 18 months has brought increased public focus to the issue of supersized classes in Irish schools. This has highlighted the difficulties faced by schools in providing a safe learning environment for all our children.
The average class size in Irish primary schools is over 23 compared to the EU average of 20 pupils per class. 85% of primary pupils are taught in classes above the European average and more than one seventh of pupils in our primary schools learn in a supersized class of more than 30 pupils.
The Government has set out its ambition to establish the best education system in Europe. This cannot happen while Irish primary classes remain the largest in the European Union. Smaller class sizes would give both teachers and children space to engage in child-centred, collaborative, and active teaching and learning as envisaged by the Primary School Curriculum, but which is greatly impeded by our current oversized classes.
In our overcrowded classrooms, teachers are struggling to give every child the individual attention and time that they deserve, and it is becoming ever more difficult to meet the increasingly complex needs of all children in our schools. With smaller class sizes, teachers could give every child more individual attention and time. Children would have a safer learning environment with greater space and opportunities for their growth and development.
There has been an increased focus on and awareness of education throughout the pandemic. We must work to direct this focus to our areas of concern and make our voices heard over the coming weeks to place our demands for primary education at the top of the political agenda.
In the run up to the budget, our political representatives need to hear from you about the realities of life for children and teachers in supersized classes and the positive impact that a reduction in class size can have for our children. You can help by emailing your local TD and Government party leaders and by encouraging your school colleagues, INTO branch members and parents and your wider school community to do the same ensuring that all TDs are fully aware of the needs of primary and special schools.