The Government has relaxed rules about class sizes to cope with the high demand for primary places this year, but a leading academic has warned that larger classes may damage some children.
In 1998 Labour made it illegal for class sizes to be more than 30 for four to seven year-olds unless there were exceptional circumstances. The Coalition has now relaxed these rules, in the face of 265,000 extra places needed by next September – the biggest growth in pupil numbers for decades, The Guardian reports.
Some pupils are already being taught in classes of over 31 pupils; according to the National Audit Office the number of four to seven year-olds in large classes soared from 23,200 in 2007 to 47,300 last year. Local politicians are increasingly supporting the trend, arguing that building new schools will be a waste of money if the birth rate falls again.
A professor of psychology and education has called on teachers to resist larger classes: “It is worrying that there is this growing tide of opinion that class sizes aren’t important,” said Peter Blatchford from the Institute of Education. He added that research shows that class sizes of over 30 are particularly damaging for children of low ability or with special needs.
What do you think of teaching larger classes? And if you’re already doing so, what effect is it having on you and your pupils?