Classrooms too full to allow pupils to flourish
John Williams is not the least surprised at the OECD finding that Irish primary-school classes are among the biggest in Europe.
Every day his staff face the reality of large classes at the Divine Word National School, Marley Grange, Rathfarnham, Co Dublin, where the average class size is 28 and one teacher has to cope with 32 pupils.
"The emphasis in the new curriculum is on active learning but that's very difficult in large classes," said Mr Williams.
"It's also tough on special-needs children who are mainstreamed into larger classes. They are entitled to supports, but if too much time is devoted to them, other pupils can suffer, especially in larger classes."
Irish National Teachers' Organisation general secretary Sheila Nunan said low spending on primary education was directly responsible for large class sizes.
"Education at a Glance 2010 shows Irish class sizes are among the highest in the OECD and the second highest in the EU," she said.
"On average there are 24 pupils in Irish classrooms compared to an EU average of 20. The smallest classes are in Luxembourg, where there are, on average, 15 pupils per class."