'Supersize' infant classes double over seven years

Posted on: 2018-09-06 08:00:00

The number of infant school children taught in “supersize” classes has almost doubled in the past seven years, amid concern that schools are flouting the law.

In England, 43,130 five to seven-year-old children were taught in classes of over 30 in 2011, but this had increased to 82,358 by 2018.

This represents 4.9 per cent of all infant school pupils, compared to 2.9 per cent in 2011, according to a Labour analysis of House of Commons research.

There is a statutory limit on class sizes for children aged between five and seven, meaning that any classes above 30 are falling foul of the law.

School admission regulations dictate that “No infant class may contain more than 30 pupils while an ordinary teaching session is conducted by a single school teacher”.

Every region outside of London saw a growth in the number of infant class sizes over 30, the research found. Overall, the number of children in Years One and Two who are taught by a single teacher in classes over 30 has increased by 91 per cent since 2011.

Angela Rayner, the Shadow Education Secretary, said that situation is “totally unsustainable”. She added: “If Ministers really wanted to give every child the education they deserve, they wouldn’t pack so many five, six and seven-year-olds into classes of this size.”

A report published by the Public Accounts Committee earlier this year warned that there is a “growing sense of crisis” in teacher recruitment against  backdrop of soaring pupil numbers.

Ministers have failed to “get a grip” on teacher retention, MPs said, adding that it is “particularly worrying” that the number of secondary school teachers has been falling since 2010.

The report found that the Department for Education  (DfE) has a “disparate collection of small-scale interventions” to address the crisis in teacher retention, but these are “inadequate” and fail to address the underlying issues.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said: “The average primary class size has also seen little change and currently sits at 27.1, well below the statutory limit, even with the increases in number of children attending primary school.

“We are on track to create one million new schools places this decade – the largest increase for at least two generations.

"The number of pupils in overcrowded schools has actually decrease by over 43,000 since 2010 and we have also increased funding for school places, so that it has grown alongside the population increase, to meet local authorities’ pupil number projections.”

Source: The Telegraph

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