Fine Gael Proposals to Address Primary School Class Size Issue are Worth Considering

Proposals put forward by Fine Gael to address the increase in class sizes in Primary Schools as proposed in November’s budget have received support from Kilkenny Green Party Councillor, Malcolm Noonan. Councillor Noonan said that the proposals are worth considering by Government and could prevent the overcrowding situation in many primary schools from getting worse. He also welcomed the non partisan approach taken by their frontbench spokesperson on Education, Brian Hayes TD in putting the proposals to Minister for Education and Science, Batt O Keeffe.

Cllr Noonan agrees with the contention that the decision to increase the general staffing schedule at primary school from 27 pupils per teacher to 28 will lead to a loss of teachers in some schools and further disadvantage children with special educational needs.

Deputy Hayes proposals include;

• no school should lose a teacher if they are one child under the schedule

• where eight teacher schools lose a teacher under the schedule, thereby merging two years into one year, some consideration should be given for allowing schools to retain eight teachers
• a more flexible approach to be taken in determining appeals brought by schools on teacher numbers
• where a school has 80 or more newcomer pupils, the cap on two language support teachers should be lifted to allow the allocation of a third language support teacher.

‘This is the type of politics people in this country are crying out for right now’ stated Cllr Noonan, ‘from talking to people over the past number of months since the recession hit, I feel that we need an end to the political point scoring and back biting and for a cross party approach to be adopted to this and so many of the other challenges facing our society as the economic crisis deepens.

‘Also we must protect the most vulnerable in our community from the worst effects of the recession. There should be no threat to the quality of our primary education and I feel that the Minister for Education should seriously consider Deputy Hayes proposals and also accept the gesture of support from Deputy Hayes if the Minister were to implement them. It could go a long way towards addressing the very real concern among teachers and parents about the future wellbeing of our children’.