Westmeath schools to benefit from low pupil teacher ratio - Burke

Westmeath schools are set to benefit from the lowest pupil teacher ratio ever, Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath, Peter Burke, has said.

Deputy Peter Burke also said that additional special needs assistants will ensure extra supports for local children who need them most.

“I am delighted to announce that children here in Westmeath will benefit from the lowest pupil teacher ratio ever of 26:1, ensuring better opportunities and a fairer chance for all children in classrooms across our local community,” Deputy Burke commented.

“Fine Gael is also committed to ensuring that children with special educational needs are given the opportunity to reach their full potential. The Government is investing over €1.7bn in special education needs in the coming year. This means that over 1,000 additional special needs assistants can be recruited in time for September, 2018, bringing the total number to over 15,000.”

“This will ensure extra support for children who need it most here in Westmeath, ensuring they have a fair chance and the best opportunities. In 2018, we will also see 230 new teachers in special classes and special schools and 100 new special education teachers. A further €5.5 million will be allocated to provide support for a range of new policy measures including the foreign languages strategy, STEM education policy, digital learning strategy and the Government’s ‘Creative Ireland’ initiative.”

“Ensuring the wellbeing of students is a key priority of government. The equivalent of 100 additional guidance posts will be provided in September, 2018. Some 10 new NEPS psychologists will also be hired in 2018.”

Deputy Burke said families with older children will also welcome the funding announced for the third level sector.

“My colleague, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, also announced an additional €310 million has been allocated out to 2021 to address the infrastructure needs of the higher and further education sectors,” he commented.

“The new investment will also support the development of Technological Universities across the country. It is the Department of Education’s intention to have this Bill passed by Christmas. I am delighted that we are responding to the increasing demographics and are providing an additional 2,100 student places in higher education. The opportunity now exists for more students to avail of further education.”

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