The increase in class sizes under Budget 09 is “the cruellest cut of all” as it will affect children’s learning and their life chances according to educationalist and Fine Gael Sen Fidelma Healy Eames.
Under the Budget, class sizes will now be increased to 28 pupils per one teacher - the largest pupil teacher ratio of any of the 27 EU states.
Sen Healy Eames said larger classes “robs our children” of more teacher contact time “when they most need it” in primary and secondary school.
“Given that there is now a policy of inclusion of children with special needs and a wide range of learning difficulties in the mainstream classroom,” she said, “it means teachers’ time will be spread even more thinly across bigger class sizes.”
She said it is hard to understand the increase given that already 100,000 of primary pupils are in classes of 30 plus.
Sen Healy Eames said Budget 09 shows the Government’s lack of commitment to “the knowledge economy”.
“At a time when education should have been a key strategic investment for our future,” she said, “Minister Batt O’Keeffe should have shown leadership by making the reduction of pupil teacher ratios an untouchable.”