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Falling Rolls should be used to improve pupil – teacher ratios

14 March, 2007

Newly elected West Belfast MLA Paul Maskey commenting to the recent BELB report into the falling number of students in Belfast schools has said that falling numbers should be used to improve the pupil - teacher ratio.

Mr Maskey said:

"Many parents, teachers and students will be very concerned about the implication of falling student numbers and the threat now hanging over a number of smaller schools.

"While clearly not every small school will be viable in the long term we must ensure that our priority is the education of our children and young people. In Belfast, where there are high numbers of children leaving school with poor numeracy and literacy skills, it is essential that we recognise fully the benefits of smaller class sizes.

"Not only do we need to look at how we can develop models of sharing to improve viability but we also work to improve pupil- teacher ratios. Sinn Féin want schools that are centred in the community, reflective of the community and aim for a pupil-teacher ratio of 15:1 to facilitate development and learning at this crucial stage for children.

"There are many things that need to be done with the education system to give both pupil and teacher the best opportunity to teach and learn in the best possible environment. The children of today are the future of tomorrow, and they need to be given the best possible start in life. Children cannot learn adequately in large classes, especially children with learning difficulties." ENDS

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