China succeeds with large class sizes

5th May 1995 at 01:00
I have just returned from a study visit to China. The issue of class sizes there is slightly different to ours. In the senior school I visited, the class size averaged 55. However, there appeared to be high quality learning going on and teachers were not under undue stress.

The reason for this was that the teachers only taught about 14 out of 35 lessons per week. They had the rest of each day to prepare and mark their work in detail, to hold departmental meetings and (for most) to give individual advice and tuition to students or to meet parents.

Although the teaching year is 220 days and the teaching day is long (7. 45am to 5pm with two hours for lunch), the teachers had a work pattern which fitted their particular pedagogy.

The school's pupil:teacher ratio was 14 to 1, but class sizes were up to 60.

Class size is not the main issue. The appropriate deployment of an adequate teaching force given enough time to devote to the individual success and achievement of their pupils is the issue.

The Education Secretary may be right about there being no proof about the optimum class size for effective teaching, but whatever the chosen pedagogy and its appropriateness for the social mores, teachers must have enough time to devote to the progress of individual students.

The headlines perhaps should not be about class size, but pupil:teacher ratio.

KEN WALSH

Headteacher

King Edward VII Upper School

Burton Road

Melton Mowbray

Leicestershire

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now