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New figures Class sizes in primary schools fall to lowest level in 20 years

There was just one pupil enrolled in Ireland's smallest school - Desertserges National School near Enniskeane in west Cork

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One school has a single pupil

One school has a single pupil

One school has a single pupil

Average class sizes in primary schools have fallen to their lowest level in 20 years.

New figures published by the Department of Education show the average class size decreased from 24.1 students in 2019/20 to 23.3 in the school year which ended in June.

It is the largest annual change over the past two decades and the lowest annual figure since 2008.

The latest figures also reveal that just one in seven pupils in mainstream primary schools were in overcrowded classes during the school year.

The percentage of students in classes of 30 or more decreased from 17.8pc to 14.3pc in the space of 12 months.

Although 78,320 students were still in classrooms considered overcrowded, it was a decrease of almost 20,000 on the previous year.

One of the main factors in the reduction in average class sizes is the drop in overall enrolment levels in 3,107 mainstream primary schools by more than 7,000 last year.

There has been an even more significant decrease in the pupil-teacher ratio, falling from 19.2 in 2000 to 14.5 last year due largely to the hiring of more than 6,000 extra teachers and almost 10,000 special needs assistants.

While numbers at primary school have grown by 28pc since 2000, they are projected to fall over the next 15 years, with Donegal and Clare already recording fewer pupils than 10 years ago.

The figures show the school with the highest average class size in the country is a gaelscoil on Dublin's northside - Scoil Mobhí in Glasnevin.

In the recent school year it had an average of 31.3 pupils in each of its eight classrooms, although the level has been steadily falling in recent years.

The largest school in the country is St Mary's Parish Primary School on Dublin Road in Drogheda, Co Louth, which had a total of 1,100 students.

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In contrast, there was just one pupil enrolled in Ireland's smallest school - Desertserges National School near Enniskeane in west Cork.

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