A Galway West TD has expressed concerns about new figures from the Department of Education which show class sizes with as many as 37 pupils in some parts of Galway.
Mairéad Farrell TD said that it is clear that overcrowding in classrooms is a huge problem, and called on the government to immediately carry out an audit of class sizes across the country.
“New figures show that the median class size in 2019 was 25 students,” she said. “The EU average is 20 students per class.
“Classes in Wicklow and Kerry had up to 39 and 38 children respectively, whilst schools in Galway, Limerick, Louth and Meath were not far behind, with up to 37 kids sharing one classroom.”
Schools in Galway had up to 37 kids in the classroom, while in Westmeath there were 45 pupils in one class last year.
The Sinn Féin TD said that the planning for a return to school in just three weeks’ time is being made more difficult because ‘we have the highest class sizes in Europe’.
She said that the Government failed to tackle this in its plans for the reopening of schools, whilst one in every five primary school children here is in a class of over 30.
“There are countless classes that are far too big, in buildings too small, and not fit for purpose,” added Deputy Farrell.
“The first step in ensuring that educational standards and safety protocols are maintained, is by drastically reducing class sizes down to the EU average of 20.
“It is extremely disappointing, then, that the government parties voted against our Private Members’ Motion last week that would have committed the Government to doing just that.
“If there ever was a time to tackle this issue, surely this is it. To start, all classes of over 30 kids should be abolished, and never allowed to return.”