More than 2,000 primary school classes across the county have over 30 pupils and some are closer to 40, which is ‘simply unacceptable’, unions have said.
The latest statistics from the Department of Education show the average class size is 22.8, while the EU average is 20.
In the Cork County Council area, there were 208 classes with 30 pupils or more.
Similar numbers have also been seen for South Dublin County Council with 142, Galway County Council with 108, Meath with 113, and Limerick with 106.
In the academic year 2021-2022, there were classes with 39 pupils in Monaghan; classes of 38 pupils in Cork County Council, Limerick, Galway City Council and Laois; and classes of 37 in Louth, Mayo, Meath, Offaly and Wexford.
Irish National Teachers Organization (INTO) general secretary John Boyle said: ‘It’s a crying shame in 2022 that 66,104 pupils were expected to cope in 2,120 Irish primary classrooms containing 30 or more pupils.
‘This is simply unacceptable.
‘The Government may well tout the fact that the average of 22.8 is the lowest class size average recorded since 2001, but shamefully it remains the highest in the EU. Budget 2023 must deliver class size reductions of two pupils per class in all schools, including DEIS schools.’
INTO said evidence shows children from disadvantaged backgrounds do better in smaller classes.
The figures were released to Sinn Féin education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire. Speaking to the Irish Daily Mail, he said it is ‘very hard to imagine’ how a teacher or pupils can thrive in classes of these sizes.
Deputy Ó Laoghaire said a two-point reduction to the pupil-teacher ratio in each of the next two years would cost €31 million per year.
He added: ‘It is about investing in our children’s education and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their potential because it is very hard to give every child the attention they deserve when there are 31, 33 or 35 kids in a class.’
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said: ‘For the 2022/23 school year, the staffing schedule for primary schools has been improved by one point and schools will be provided with class teachers on the basis of one teacher for every 24 pupils.
Also, 1,750 additional posts in schools are being provided in the 2022/23 school year, including 1,330 teaching posts to cater for a reduction in pupil-teacher ratio and additional teachers in special education.’