OVER two dozen primary schools across Londonderry, Limavady and Strabane have class sizes of more than 30 pupils despite the law stipulating that younger children - P1 to P4 - should be sheltered from large classes.
Education Minister John O’Dowd revealed that at least 27 schools across the three districts had 30-plus class sizes with even more if Omagh and Fermanagh was included.
He explained: “Under the Local Management of Schools arrangements, it is a matter for school Boards of Governors and Principals to plan and use resources to maximum effect in accordance with their own needs and priorities, including setting staffing levels.
“However, legislation does dictate that classes for our youngest children, Years 1-4, should be kept at 30 or fewer. Approval for a class size in excess of 30 pupils must be approved by the relevant Education and Library Board (ELB) which administer this policy.
“Such exceptions can apply if a school has to comply with a direction of an admissions appeal tribunal, a school attendance order or a statement of special educational needs.
“ELBs can also take into account the need to avoid unreasonable public expenditure.”
He listed 27 local schools with class sizes of over 30 but did not provide information on whether the classes applied to Years 1 to 4 in those schools.
He stated the information related to classes across Year groups 1-7 in primary schools and includes classes of 30 pupils, as well as classes of more than 30 pupils.
The schools were: Ballykelly Primary School; Broadbridge Primary School; Drumachose Primary School; Drumahoe Primary School; Drumrane Primary School; Eglinton Primary School; Glendermott Primary School; Good Shepherd Primary School and Nursery School; Hollybush Primary School; Holy Child Primary School; Lisnagelvin Primary School; Londonderry Model Primary School; Longtower Primary School; Nazareth House Primary School; Oakgrove Integrated Primary School; Rosemount Primary School; Sacred Heart Primary School; Sion Mills Primary School; St Anne’s Primary School; St Canice’s Primary School; St Colmcille’s Primary School; St Eugene’s Primary School; St Mary’s Girls’ Primary School; St Mary’s Primary School, Ballymagorry; St Mary’s Primary School, Claudy; St Patrick’s Primary School, Castlederg; Strabane Controlled Primary School.