Thursday 27 November 2014

Minister says we can't afford smaller classes

Emma Jane Hade

Published 02/09/2014 | 02:30

Jan O'Sullivan
Jan O'Sullivan

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan has said that the country cannot afford to reduce the increasing class sizes.

Ms O'Sullivan said that although she would like to cut the number of primary school pupils in large classes as "quickly as I can", it is not currently financially viable.

"In terms of smaller classes, whenever it is feasible, I would certainly like to see smaller classes, but we are still very much in a financial reality, where budgets are going to be very tight again this year and we have growing (population) numbers as well," she said yesterday.

She was speaking in response to a report in this paper which revealed that class sizes in Ireland are amongst the largest in Europe, and that 125,000 pupils will be squeezed into classes of 30 or more.

"We have a growing population in Ireland, which isn't the case in many other European countries and we have to deal with that," she added.

"One of the main focuses is to ensure that we do measure the number of children that are going to be in the various levels of the system over the years, and to ensure that we actually construct schools, classrooms, in order to deal with the growing numbers."

It was also reported yesterday that 4,000 applications to the Department of Social Protection for the back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance have been refused. The eligibility package was criticised as it does not take rent or mortgage costs into account when considering the applications, and some families are understood to have been just €5 over the threshold,

Ms O'Sullivan said that this did not come under the jurisdiction of her department, but added that these programmes need to be in constant review.

Irish Independent

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