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Ever increasing class sizes

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by kennykoalabear, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. kennykoalabear

    kennykoalabear New commenter

    My KS1 and early years colleagues and I have been told that we are to expect 33 children in our class from going forward due to a lack of school places. I always thought it was 30 maximum. I barely have enough chairs or room on the carpet! I have 32 now and the marking workload ha
    Shedman, agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  2. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Finished you off mid-sentence? :eek:
    lardylegs, Stiltskin, bevdex and 4 others like this.
  3. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    agathamorse, pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  4. CalF123

    CalF123 New commenter

    Rising class sizes is one of those topics that is often bandied around as a complaint. But there is actually no evidence linking class size with educational attainment or outcomes. In fact, countries with much better educational results than the UK have far larger classes.

    I am a deputy head and resource manager at a free school, and we believe in evidence-based practice and operations. As such, we do have class sizes of up to 38 in some subjects.

    Not only does this allow us to maximise the output efficiency of each teacher, it also enables a really exciting range of projects and activities which would not be possible within a smaller class setting.
  5. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    Ignore this person - they are not a teacher and from their previous posts it is clear that they have nothing but contempt for the principles of education, the needs of pupils and the staff they claim to work with. From what I have gathered they are a pen pushing bean counter who stays well away from the pupils and is clearly only posting here in order to fulfill some desperate need for validation.
  6. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    Regarding class sizes - The independent sector uses class sizes as an important marketing tool, Eton starts pupils in classes of 20 -24 going down to 15 or less at GCSE.
    Of course since Eton has also given us the likes of Johnson and Reece-Mog, perhaps that isn't such a good idea after all.:eek:
  7. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter

    Those who claim that smaller classes make no difference to student learning but effective teachers do should connect the two factors. Able people are more likely to become and remain teachers if they have decent working conditions, and smaller classes are one aspect of decent working conditions. Able people understand that every extra student increases the stress level in the classroom, the time available for interaction with each student and the correction time demanded of a teacher. If a teacher with say, six different classes of 25 students, spends five minutes a week correcting the work of each student, that teacher will spend 12 hours 30 minutes a week on correction. Adding one student to each class will add half an hour to the correction time for that week. Adding two students will add one hour. Adding six students will add three hours. Adding students will also increase report-writing time and needed preparation time. The teacher will handle this by cutting back on the detail in correction of each student’s work, cutting back on preparation time, withdrawing from other school activities or increasing the time working. The committed teacher will be inclined to the last option but in the end will be likely to burn out and either reduce effort or leave the profession.

    Research supports the value of small classes.

    Many class size studies are poor quality and ignore other factors; e.g., parental affluence, the nature of the students in the school. Proper studies use randomised samples.

    In Tennessee’s Student Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) study (available at http://www.heros-inc.org/)in 1980s, students and teachers were randomly assigned to a small class of 15-17 students, a regular class of 22-26 students or a regular class with a teacher’s aide. Several thousand students in years prep to 3 were involved in this study. This class size large reduction increased student achievement by an amount equivalent to about three additional months of schooling four years later. Follow-up studies showed that students from those smaller classes were still in front of those from larger classes in year 8 and more likely be in college at the age of 20.

    The reasons were better student engagement, more individual attention and fewer disciplinary problems.

    It should be noted that the larger classes were of 22 students.

    Professor John Hattie, of New Zealand, has done a comprehensive study (EARLI Presentation by John Hattie for Web.ppt) of all the factors that lead to improved student achievement. He concludes that smaller class sizes are not as significant as other factors, but nonetheless he rates them as giving a nine-month improvement in student achievement.

    Matthew M. Chingos and Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst provide a discussion in

    “Class Size: What Research Says and What it means for State Policy” -

    http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2011/05/11-class-size-whitehurst-chingos(Brookings Institution, 11/5/2011).

    Margaret Clark provides another discussion in “Jensen's class size claims need to be unpacked” - http://austcolled.com.au/notepad/article/class-size-vexed-question-or-huge-distraction.

    She refers to Linda Hammond Darling(The Flat World and Education) as saying thatthere is evidence that teacher retention is influenced strongly by class size.

    She also says,

    “In a 2010 report prepared for the Catholic Education office it was noted that the higher than average class sizes in Catholic schools act as an impediment to the attraction and retention of the highest quality teachers and that some teachers who started their careers in the Catholic system were able to be poached by independent schools because of the attraction of working with smaller classes.”

    Experience tells me that there is no difficulty in providing both decent teaching loads and decent class sizes in our schools in order to keep committed and able people in teaching. As a timetabler until the end of 2004, I organised my school with a maximum teaching load of just under 18 hours a week, and average regular class load of 15 hours 44 minutes and the capacity for decent time allowances (deductions from teaching loads for leadership responsibilities). The maximum timetabled teaching load in that school then was 21 48-minute periods a week (16 hours and 48 Minutes) plus a home group (nine minutes a day) plus an extra once a fortnight. The maximum class size was 25 students, and the average was 21.3 students. The school had 92.3 teachers for 1187 students in 2004.

    I taught in Victoria from 1974 to 2007, and I never had a class with more than 29 students in it, not for even one day. In 1975, I had one class of more than 25 students, and in 1981, I had two classes of more than 25 students. Apart from those three classes, every class I ever had for a full year was limited to 25 students. There were a few classes in all those years which had more than 25 students for short periods while things were sorted out. In 2005, my year 7 English classes were 14 and 16 students each.

    Victorian schools are already funded to cap prep to year 2 classes at 21 pupils each, while the overall maximum average for classes is in a primary school is set at 26 pupils.

    Victorian secondary classes have been capped at 25 students in strong union schools since the early 1970s and in all schools, with the exception of the 1992-99 Coalition government era, since the 1980s. Even during the ‘92-99 era, most schools tried to keep classes below 25.

    The contrast is not between a poor teacher with a small class and a good teacher with a large class. It is between a good teacher with a small class and a good teacher with a large class. A good teacher can use the small class to interact with the poorer students and to give more attention to their work.
  8. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    I should know better than asking this new poster but what exciting projects and activities can you do with 38 pupils that you could not do with 30?
  9. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

  10. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter

    No worries, Holy Mahogany! I am happy to oblige.
  11. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Ignore the troll above...

    FWIW I worked in a number of independent schools towards the end of my career - in one I had no teaching group with more than 19 pupils in it! In the others the largest number was around 24... Why? The parents were paying (loads!) for well qualified staff with the time to deal individually with their children, and ensure they did really well. Which they did... whatever their level of ability.

    They had no doubt that smaller class sizes means higher standards, and also the reverse...
  12. Lucilla90

    Lucilla90 Occasional commenter

    When I first started teaching, classes were normally around 38 and we had no TAs, but there weren’t the same pressures.

    We could be more creative. Topic webs and ‘carousels’.

    I can see why you are concerned about such a high number with today’s pressures.
    pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  13. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    @CalF123 has opinions that are not worthy of consideration.
    lardylegs, Rachelmbx, vannie and 5 others like this.
  14. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    @CalF123 cites no sources whereas @Christopher Curtis does.
    A failure to provide adequate accommodation for a class of any size does not improve performance.
    An increase in workload for the teacher does not improve performance.
    I am not denying that some countries have rather larger class sizes than us and better performance. The question to ask is "what else do they do that improves performance?"
  15. CheeseMongler

    CheeseMongler Lead commenter

    Careful, else @CalF123 may jump on this and try to get the poor teachers at their school to teach in Finnish/Japanese/Korean.
    agathamorse, 8sycamore and pepper5 like this.
  16. princesslegend

    princesslegend Occasional commenter

    You're an idiot.
  17. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I thought the link @afterdark gave was interesting, as I have heard about the 30 limit but never seen the thinking behind it. It seems unlikely to me that any of the criteria for class sizes of 33 were met, but I could be wrong. What one can do about it I do not know. The school won't have the funding to generate extra classes, and there may not be anywhere else suitable for the extra children. That leaves everybody in an impossible position. In the end, it probably comes down to the Government not providing enough funding for schools.

    From my own experience, I certainly preferred smaller classes. Whether the results were better I am not sure, but it seems to me logical that if I have more time to give individual help to each student then that should help them do better. And there certainly seems to be evidence that it makes a difference with younger children.

    Thanks @Christopher Curtis for your analysis. From your posts, it sounds to me like Australia is a better place to teach than over here.
  18. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Largest class I ever taught was 32. But that was a top set triple science group who had opted for the subject and were all determined to succeed. As the ability level went down so did the class size such that a set 6 group may be 16/17 with a TA as well.
  19. 8sycamore

    8sycamore Occasional commenter

    I only have experience of secondary. I once worked in an academy and they had one huge "learning space". They wanted to combine two year 7 classes. 64 children, some SEN, all in one room. One teacher was to be the presenter, another was to help out. It was a bloody disaster.
    I hope to send my child to private primary school, where class sizes don't exceed 20. I want their work to be marked and I want them to be known by their teacher. I don't know if it will be possible financially, especially if I continue to stay at home and if we have another child, but I really hope it is.
  20. 8sycamore

    8sycamore Occasional commenter

    This a deputy head you're talking about!
    That kind of language is akin to treason in the Court of Henry the Eighth.
    (Removes tongue from cheek).

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