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Class too big to teach

Discussion in 'Science' started by Ms Chipping, Nov 15, 2015.

  1. Ms Chipping

    Ms Chipping New commenter

    I am teaching A level chemistry to a class of 30 students (I am on a full teaching timetable ages: 12-18). School decided not to split the class. Carrying out practical work is very difficult, not only because I do not have sufficient equipment for some practicals, but because of H&S issues with so many students in a small classroom. I have tried splitting the class between practical work and study, however this is increasing the teaching time considerably and there are problems finding extra classrooms and teachers. The volume of marking is also demanding and providing 1:1 support very difficult. Any ideas?
  2. rachel_g41

    rachel_g41 Established commenter

    That does seem ridiculously big for an A-level class.

    I currently teach CIE Physics and have definitely seen somewhere a recommendation of a maximum of 12-15 per class in some of their documentation (can't remember now if on specification or not). Can you find some similar recommendation from your exam board? I know it doesn't solve your problem but it might help your case if you can go again to management and ask for a split.
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Not good. You have my sympathy.
    The school will of course have given you extra funding to celebrate your success in recruiting so many students to ensure they have the best possible experience during their two years with you.
    No? Thought not.
    I can see lots of difficulties - much harder to involve all students in all discussions, a distinct danger of you going into lecturer mode. A huge danger of the more marginal students not getting the individual attention they need.
    My only suggestion at the moment is that when you teach a topic, you try to find tasks for them to do that will enable them to learn independently and show you their knowledge- a bit BTECish I know. Trouble is, a lot of them will want you to teach them.
    My evil twin brother would be looking to identify the kids who won't work hard enough and get them onto less challenging courses.
  4. Ssn77

    Ssn77 New commenter

    I had concerns about much smaller numbers than your classes in small labs, so gathered information from the internet and went to our principal with a document with the maximum number of students we were prepared to take in Chemistry classes considering H&S issues. We said that practicals were compulsory, and splitting classes into two to carry out practicals was not feasible as we would lose so much teaching time. We immediately had a cap placed on numbers in A level Chemistry classes.
    There is no legal limit on class size, but there is consistent advice of no more than 20 students with one teacher for practical work. Ask for a risk assessment - that is a legal requirement.
    There is a very useful document at
    CLEAPSS are also very helpful.
  5. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    If I remember correctly there is a legal limit of 20 in Scottish schools. Not immediately relevant, but might be useful information when in discussion with management.
  6. jennylee24

    jennylee24 New commenter

    It is alarming. Especially now with the Practical Endorsements stuff it sounds like an accident waiting to happen. Are you the only A-Level Chemistry teacher in the school? Do your other Chemistry/Physics/Biology colleagues struggle like you do too but hasn't said anything? I know it doesn't sound encouraging but perhaps you need to gauge a bit of momentum from all three subjects to put pressure into Management. It is about safety for all, and liability of the school, you can perhaps address it that way too without sounding like an all on assault on the Management.
  7. cekh5899

    cekh5899 New commenter

    I have 25 Biology students - I tried to use the H&S as leverage to reduce class size and double checked with CLEAPPS but school pointed out they are only "guidelines"..... very difficult to speak to/ provide useful feedback with such large numbers.
  8. Ms Chipping

    Ms Chipping New commenter

    If an accident were to happen due to poor H&S as a result of overcrowding would I be liable?
  9. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    This is far too large for an A-level class, especially in a subject where practical work is required. No doubt the head is either scientifically illiterate, or just doesn't give a toss about his students' education or safety.

    As for your H & S concerns, I suspect its's the head, who instigated these large classes, who would be liable.

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