A total of 48% of all primary schools have fewer than five teachers, yet we constantly hear the refrain from him and the Government that in office he has managed to protect the pupil-teacher ratio, Donegal North East Fianna Fáil Deputy Charlie McConalogue told the Dáil.
Speaking during Question Time he said Education Minister Ruairi Quinn had admitted to the fact that since he came to office he has very significantly increased the pupil-teacher ratio for schools with one, two, three and four teachers, accounting for 48% of all primary schools.
“In September 2011 a two-teacher school needed 14 students to retain its two teachers, a three-teacher school needed 51 students to retain its three teachers and a four-teacher school needed 81 students to retain its four teachers,” he said. “Under the Minister’s stewardship the number of students those schools need to retain their teachers has increased by six for two-teacher schools, by five for three-teacher schools and by five for four-teacher schools also. Why has the Minister targeted the smaller schools in particular, which, as he said, make up nearly half of our primary schools? Alongside that, we have seen cuts over two years to the minor works grants and summer works scheme, the cumulative effect of which is that many of those schools are in crisis and many are considering whether they have a future.”
Minister Quinn said both his predecessor and he had to take into account the rapidly changing nature of the budgetary position and the fact that the overall primary school population was and is growing. He said the measures he introduced were “balanced against that particular background”.