LABOUR insists class sizes will be left untouched in the Budget – despite the ongoing wrangling over cuts.
It is one of the party's key Budget demands, because it is conscious that there would a public backlash if more children were placed in "supersized" classes.
There has also been a massive lobbying campaign, with the Irish National Teachers' Organisation holding meetings of parents, teachers and TDs in every constituency.
A senior Labour source said the party would ensure there would be no changes to the pupil-teacher ratio in the Budget.
"The pupil teacher ratio is going nowhere," the source said.
Already almost a quarter of primary school children – or 121,000 pupils – are in classes of 30 or more. There had been fears among Labour backbenchers about the pupil-teacher ratio being increased – but that was before the Coalition agreed to reduce the Budget adjustment target from €3.1bn to €2.5bn.
Labour's commitment on the pupil-teacher ratio followed Education Minister Ruairi Quinn informing the Dail yesterday that there would be no change to the pupil-teacher ratio in disadvantaged schools, known as DEIS schools.
"I am conscious of the impact that large classes have. But certainly the DEIS schools will not be affected by any changes in the pupil teacher ratio for reasons that I think you might share, and we are looking at the others," he said.
However, Mr Quinn adopted a cautious approach on the pupil-teacher ratio in all other schools. He said he could not be sure until the final Budget figures were decided.
The current average pupil-teacher ratio is 28:1 in primary schools.
But even if this was increased to 29:1, it would only deliver €20m in savings in the wage bill for teachers.