Scientific evidence on class size

7th July 1995 at 01:00
The current debate about class size is a vital issue for teachers of science in both primary and secondary schools.

While there is no clear evidence from research linking class size to pupils' attainment, large class sizes lead to a reduced range of teaching strategies in science because of safety considerations.

Smaller groups give the teacher a chance to employ a far richer variety of teaching strategies and give the pupils the opportunity to be much more actively involved in their learning.

Safety concerns can limit pupils' activity. Science teachers have to carry out a risk assessment to judge the appropriateness of any particular activity for the size of class. It is inevitable that the direct involvement of individual pupils will be more limited in larger classes. The more passive pupils become, the less their enthusiasm for science will grow.

The Association for Science Education recommends a maximum class size of 20 for practical activities for pupils aged five to 16. We would urge that serious consideration is given to implementing this in schools.

JANE WHEATLEY Chair-elect Association for Science Education College Lane Hatfield, Herts

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