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Class size and teaching hours

Discussion in 'Science' started by ncooke78, Jun 21, 2018.

  1. ncooke78

    ncooke78 New commenter

    Would anyone be able to share with me if you have a max number for your A-level classes. My school wants us to go to 25 for A-level biology which I think is too big.

    Also how many teaching hours do you have in years 7-11? We are pushing for more as we can’t get the curriculum taught!!
  2. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    Yr 7 and 9 - 6 hours per fortnight
    Yr 8 - 5 hours
    Yr 10 + 11 Double - 9 hours
    Yr 10 Triple - 9 hours
    Yr 11 Trilple - 12 hours

    The most I have ever had in an A level science group was 24 for Chemistry. It was very difficult completing practical simply due to lack of space.
  3. the6thtraceybrother

    the6thtraceybrother New commenter

    A-level biology i have had 18 in the class, but again space for practicals was almost unworkable.
  4. maggie m

    maggie m Lead commenter

    I had 30 for A level biology last year. Practicals were impossible. I had to have half the class doing the required practicals and send the others off to do independent work . This year there are 2 classes 13 and 16 respectively ( different option blocks) . Looking at the year 11 who have just taken GCSE I doubt we will get 2 classes again...they are very weak.
  5. border_walker

    border_walker Lead commenter

    Recall from long ago now. Both chemistry and biology A Level had a single large group. Geography had less students across 2 groups. down to staff numbers we were told. So for the first few weeks after each lesson chemistry teacher and myself had a discussion about how many we had got rid of. We simply taught the hardest stuff first until we reduced our class sizes. It must have been obvious what we had done, but we were never given large groups again.
  6. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    I would say that for any A-level subject (but especially those with a practical content) good practice would dictate a maximum of 15 students, if they are to get the level teacher attention needed at this level.

    Any school that says otherwise is simply prioritizing money over the welfare of their students. Which, of course, most UK schools have been doing for decades.
  7. jcstev

    jcstev New commenter

    David, are you aware that schools get £4000 per A-level student? That has to cover everything - teacher salary (and employer NI and pension contributions), resources, exam fees, all overheads.

    Schools cannot run deficits - so although they might want smaller class sizes, it's not their fault they can't afford it.

    There is a trade-off - fewer contact hours means a smaller proportion of the teacher's total salary needs to be funded, so the class can be smaller.
  8. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    jcstev, have you looked at the very high numbers of admin/pastoral staff now employed in schools?
    My old school when I went to it, and it was good, used to get by very well on just a head, deputy, their secretary/receptionist, a caretaker, and some lab techs. This school is now a very poor one, so I had a look at the staff list. I was horrified to see an additional 5 assistant heads, and a further 36 non-teaching staff!

    This situation is duplicated in most schools. If all these parasites were sacked there might be enough money to employ proper teachers, and treat them fairly: which would be good for the students.
    rehaank and border_walker like this.
  9. jcstev

    jcstev New commenter

    David. If you want to see what most of those non-teaching staff do (for much less than a teacher's wage in most cases) you could contact a local school. Tell them you're considering a career as a TA and ask if you can spend a day shadowing one. Them come back here and tell us about your experience.

    Compared to when you and I were at school there are far more pupils in mainstream education so would previously have been in special schools, so since of these staff are doing jobs which weren't needed previously. Others are doing things teachers used to do (careers advice, running libraries, organising DoE). IT support is a much bigger role. Finance and personnel used to be done by the LEA, now devolved to schools; the same for attendance officers. Many schools employ cover supervisors - if they didn't, they would have to spend more on supply.

    In short, the world of education has changed, in ways you seem to have no appreciation of.
  10. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    jcstev, a lot of what you describe is what has destroyed education for the majority of students. Those who would have been in special schools should probably still be in them, for both their own sake and those who they burden by being in mainsteam schools. While LEAs might not be the answer, as they can be driven by political agendas, schools should most certainly have their finances, and ALL hiring and firing managed by a school board, as in the USA. As I've said many times this would seriously curb the megalomaniac tendencies of SLT. And don't get me started on cover supervisors. This was a truly egregious invention, which robbed students of getting the specialist teachers they should have. Supply would cost vastly less if, as in New Zealand, UK SLT weren't so damn lazy and organised it themselves instead of using agencies.
  11. jcstev

    jcstev New commenter

    David, whether these changes are for the better or the worse is a matter of opinion. I agree with some of what you say, but not all.

    What I think is less debatable is that the majority of these changes are beyond the power of individual schools to change. You frequently accuse SLT of corruption and venality - your evidence is often no more than that they are spending money in the ways we are discussing. You may not approve of this, but to not acknowledge the lack of choice they have is unfair, and shows a lack of respect for your fellow professionals.

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