Broad welcome for package of measures to sustain small schools

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan does not intend to change teacher-pupil ratios

There has been a broad welcome from interest groups for new measures announced yesterday aimed at sustaining small schools, particularly in isolated areas.

From the beginning of the 2015/16 school year, the number of pupils required to retain existing classroom teachers will be reduced to 19 from the current 20 for a second teacher; to 53 from the current 56 for a third teacher; and to 83 from 86 for a fourth teacher.

Numbers of pupils necessary for retention of a second teacher in schools more than eight kilometres from the next nearest school, and of the same type of patronage and language of instruction, will be reduced from 20 to 15. Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan does not intend to change the number of pupils required to gain an additional classroom teacher other than for isolated one-teacher schools.

Concerning voluntary protocols for one-teacher schools with declining numbers being developed with the Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA), the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) and the General Synod Board of Education of the Church of Ireland, the Department of Education intends writing to patrons of one-teacher schools located within an eight kilometre distance of a school of similar patronage and language of instruction.


This letter will invite them to reflect on their sustainability as a one-teacher school and to engage with the department on supports available if they amalgamate. Similar letters are to be sent to schools that fall below 25 pupils and are approaching one-teacher status.

School patrons will lead local community discussions and, when options have been considered, can contact a single point of contact in the department. Both the CPSMA and the INTO welcomed the announcement.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times