Parents concerned about plans to merge fifth and sixth classes

By Maurice Garvey

PARENTS have expressed concerns over plans by a Ballyfermot school to merge fifth and sixth classes together from September, 2016.

St Michael’s NS, told parents at a recent meeting about the plans, which will see the class size increase to 29 pupils.

St Michaels NS

Parent Rachel Corish has a daughter going into fifth class at St Michael’s in September, and is concerned about the increased in class size.

Rachel said: “Only about seven parents turned up to the recent meeting. I just don’t think the class is going to be big enough.

St Michael’s is a Deis 1 Band school. At the moment my child is in a class of 15/16 pupils. I thought there was a limit on the class size.”

Department of Education guidelines for Deis Band 1 schools (in disadvantaged areas) designate a pupil-teacher-ratio of 20:1 in junior schools, 22:1 vertical schools (junior and senior classes), and 24:1 in senior schools.

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St Michael’s NS did not respond to calls by The Echo at the time of going to print.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “The configuration of classes and the deployment of classroom teachers are done at local school level.

"The Department’s guidance to schools for the 2016/17 school year, is that the number of pupils in any class is kept as low as possible, taking all relevant contextual factors into account (e.g classroom accommodation, fluctuating enrolment etc).

“School authorities are also requested, where possible, to use their autonomy under the staffing schedule to implement smaller class sizes for junior classes.”

Parents battled last year to stop the amalgamation of four Dominican schools – St Michael’s, De La Salle, St Raphael’s and St Gabriel’s – into two co-educational facilities.

The plans were eventually deemed “untenable’ by the Archdiocese of Dublin, but St Michael’s, St Raphael’s and St Gabriel’s were allowed to apply for change of status.

However, De La Salle remains a boy’s school, leading to fears by parents that the school is being “starved out of existence.”

With De La Salle not enrolling for second class again this year, one parent said “it feels like we are fighting a losing battle”.

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