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Dear David...

The TES is publishing readers' open letters to David Blunkett in a regular series:

I am glad that the Government is to reduce class sizes for all five to seven-year-olds to 30. However, 30 children in one class is still far too many and it is not just five to seven-year-olds who benefit from smaller classes.

Industry has discovered that adults perform better when they are in smaller groups. If this is true for adults how much more will it be the case for young people?

Children need to be treated as individuals by teachers who know them well and who have the time and the autonomy to respond to the particular needs of each. Various research studies have found that the optimum size for a learning group is around 15 to 17.

Furthermore, it is not just classes which are too big, but schools as well. There are ways of reorganising schools into smaller units so that children and teachers can be part of a real learning community in which all members (parents included) can feel valued. This enables everyone to participate in making decisions about the things which affect them.

You have the opportunity radically to rethink how education is offered to young people to make it relevant in a world which is changing rapidly. If the new Government seizes the opportunity to do this and takes seriously the concepts of community, democracy and ownership we are more likely to end up with an education system that meets the needs of all children and of society.

FIONA CARNIE, National co-ordinator, Human Scale Education, 96 Carlingcott, Near Bath

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