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Children returning to oversized classes in the new academic year is an area of concern says Laois TD

Local Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley says that figures obtained by his party, underline the need for increased investment in the education system in the upcoming budget.

According to the TD, the figures show that there were 2,120 primary school classes across the state with 30 pupils or more in the academic year of 2021-2022.

The figures for Laois and Offaly are of particular concern too.

Deputy Stanley said: “Too many of our children’s quality of education is being affected by high class sizes.

“There are countless classes that are far too big, and I urge the Minister to urgently address this issue.

“In Laois, there were 28 classes with 30 pupils or more, these large numbers have also been seen in Offaly which has 35 Primary School classes with over 30 pupils. These figures are shocking.

“Some of these classes are absolutely enormous and would clearly put teachers and students under severe pressure in the last school year there were classes with as much as 38 pupils in Laois and 37 in Offaly. This is simply unacceptable.

“Sinn Féin wants to abolish all classes of over 30 pupils and never allow them to return, and work towards attaining the EU average of 20 children per class.

“The Minister has an historic opportunity to introduce a two-point reduction in average class size in a single year. The Minister has an opportunity to do this by sufficiently investing in our Education system in the upcoming budget and to make progress in reducing class sizes to the EU average.

“The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) is campaigning for a two-point reduction in average class size in a single year, I urge the Minister to listen to them and to work towards reducing our primary school class sizes in line with the EU average.

“I met with their representatives again this year and they outlined to me the importance of progress on this matter.

“Evidence shows that pupils do better and are better served with smaller class sizes. The complexity of the contemporary classroom is such that, with larger class sizes, teachers find it challenging to meet the broad spectrum of needs children now present with.

“When class numbers are more reasonable, modern teaching methods work more effectively, and teachers can spend the time needed with children. This is particularly important for children with additional needs and those from disadvantaged communities.”

Deputy Stanley explained what his party would do if put in government.

He said: “Sinn Féin in Government would reduce the pupil/teacher ratio in primary schools to the EU average of 20 children per class by September 2024.

“A two point reduction, to the pupil-teacher ratio in each of the next 2 years would cost €62m in total, €31m per year.

“These are the changes and actions that the Government should be taking now, it is time to invest sufficiently in our Education system. Children can’t wait.

“Our children deserve the best in terms of their education and currently they are not getting the quality of education that they need and deserve.”

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