Meeting to address class sizes in county

Class sizes in the county’s primary schools will be the subject of a public meeting in Hannon’s Hotel on Monday next, March 26th.             The meeting is being held by the Irish National Teachers Organisation to put pressure on the Government in advance of the election, to reduce class sizes, which are the second highest in the EU.             A public meeting will be held in Hannon’s Hotel, Roscommon, on Monday 26 March 2007 at 8.15 p.m. to highlight the fact that Irish class sizes in primary schools are the second highest in the EU.             The meeting is part of a nationwide series of meetings organised by the INTO to exert pressure on government in advance of the election to reduce class sizes in primary schools. Five years ago in the programme for government a commitment was made to reduce class sizes for children under nine to less than twenty.             28 percent of pupils in County Roscommon primary schools are in classes of 19 or less. The national average is 15 percent. 59 percent are in classes of 20 – 29, while 13 percent of the county’s children are in classes of over 30, compared to the national average of 25 percent             Speaking in advance of the Roscommon meeting Máire Ní Chuinneagáin said class sizes have a major impact on literacy and numeracy standards. ‘In an overcrowded classroom each child can expect at most eight minutes of teacher time per day,’ she said. ‘This is simply inadequate to give children with reading and mathematical difficulties a fair deal.             ‘The simple message for parents is that government has reneged on its promises to reduce class sizes for the under nines to less than twenty,’ said Máire Ní Chuinneagáin. ‘We will be asking them to raise the issue with candidates in the forthcoming election.’             ‘Primary teachers are utterly frustrated by the minimal reductions that have been introduced to date,’ she said. ‘During the term of office of the current government 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.’             The meetings are also aimed at seeking commitments from opposition TDs and candidates to prioritise class size in the event of a change of government. Currently, a quarter of all pupils in primary school are in classes of greater than thirty. Less than fifteen percent are in classes of under twenty, the class size promised by government at the start of its term of office. In total eighty five out of every hundred primary school pupils are in classes above government targets.