Pupils in too-big classes double

7th October 2005 at 01:00
The proportion of primary pupils in illegally large classes more than doubled in the past three years, government figures show.

Labour promised to cut class sizes, outlawing the practice of teaching children aged seven and under in groups of more than 30.

But since January 2002, the first year the law came into effect, the proportion of pupils in England in classes of more than 30 jumped from 0.6 per cent to 1.6 per cent by January this year.

The statistics reveal 22,080 infants were in illegally sized classes in January 2005, representing a 6.5 per cent rise in just 12 months. Officials said the majority of large classes would have broken the legal limit for one of several "permitted exceptions", such as pupils joining schools late.

But Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said schools were being forced to increase class sizes to deliver planning preparation and assessment time for teachers, which became a statutory requirement in September.

"The fact that classes are rising doesn't surprise us at all," he said. "We are pretty certain that one of the ways PPA time is being covered is by increasing class sizes."

The figures show that average class sizes for infants fell slightly to 25.6. But the average junior class size went up from 27.2 pupils last year to 27.3 in 2005.

This year, 15.2 per cent of all primary school pupils - aged 11 and under - were in classes of 31 or more, down from 21.1 per cent in 2001.

The Department for Education and Skills said: "We are talking about no more than an additional 40 classes out of 55,860."

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


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