The campaign, "Is Your Child Being Crowded Out?" is aimed at parents and the general public and is part of the unions efforts to highlight the fact that class sizes in primary schools in Ireland are the second highest in the EU.The meetings are being organised by the INTO to exert pressure on government in advance of the election to honour commitments made five years ag
The campaign, "Is Your Child Being Crowded Out?" is aimed at parents and the general public and is part of the union’s efforts to highlight the fact that class sizes in primary schools in Ireland are the second highest in the EU.
The meetings are being organised by the INTO to exert pressure on government in advance of the election to honour commitments made five years ago in the programme for government to reduce class sizes for children under nine to less than twenty.
Speaking in advance of the Louth meeting, Peter McGrane, INTO CEC Representative said class sizes have a major impact on literacy and numeracy standards.
“In an overcrowded classroom each child can expected at most eight minutes of teacher time per day,” he said. “This is simply inadequate to give children with reading and mathematical difficulties a fair deal.”
“The simple message for parents is that the government has reneged on its promises to reduce class sizes for the under nines to less than twenty,” he continued. “We will be asking parents to raise this issue with candidates in the forthcoming election.”
“Primary teachers are utterly fraustrated by the minimal reductions that have been introduced to date,” he said. “During the term of office of the current govenment, class sizes have been reduced by one, with a further smaller reduction promised next school year. This is simply not good enough at a time when there is record wealth in the country.”
An INTO survey into class sizes showed there is a considerable problem with over-crowding in a number of Dundalk schools, with some children being taught in classes of over 35 pupils.
And the problem isn’t just confined to urban areas, with schools on the outskirts of towns experiencing an influx of pupils.
Indeed, the INTO has found that Louth has one of the highest instances of children being taught in classes of 30 or more pupils.
Louth is fourth from the bottom when it comes to class sizes of more than 30.
Around 30 percent of primary children here are taught in classes where there are more than 30 pupils.
The commuter counties of Fingal, Kildare and Meath are the only counties that are worse.
Just ten percent of Louth school children are taught in the optimum class size of less than 20 pupils, five percent under the national average.
Over-crowded classes can have a detrimental effect on a child’s education, as teachers don’t have enough time to give them one to one attention.
INTO general secretary John Carr has said that some of the largest class sizes are to be found in Louth, with only ten percent of pupils are in classes that meet government targets.
He said, “Classes in Louth are among the most overcrowded in the country. The fact that only ten percent of pupils are in classes of 20 or less five years after the government made committments in this regard speaks volumes.”He said, “I would like parents to talk to election candidates in Louth about this problem to ensure they know how important it is and find out what they would do if theyr formed the next government”.
The Dundalk meeting will be addressed by Peter McGrane and Ted McCarthy, chairman of District 5, as well as representatives from parents and management.
There will be a video presentation highlighting the reality of large classes in Irish primary schools and will show the adverse affects for children of such large numbers in classrooms. The benefits of smaller classes for children will be made clear to parents.