Teacher numbers

18th May 2007 at 01:00
I would like to respond to several points in your article ("It's a richer mix in class of 2007" (TES, May 4). It is wrong to suggest teacher numbers in all schools are falling. Since 1997, the numbers have soared by 35,800, and last year a very marginal 0.1 per cent drop in maintained schools was accompanied by a near doubling in academies - from 1,700 to 3,200.

The article wrongly intimates that the 1.4 per cent of key stage 1 classes with more than 30 pupils are illegal. In fact, the number of unlawfully large infant classes is now down to 0.2 per cent. Reducing large infant classes remains a priority and we have cut the proportion of pupils taught in KS1 classes with more than 30 pupils from 29 per cent to around 1.7 per cent over the past decade.

Chris Davis's suggestion that KS2 classes are growing because of cuts in KS1 class sizes does not stand up to scrutiny. Our statistics show a dip in KS2 class sizes, too, with the proportion of pupils taught in classes of more than 30 down from 37.9 per cent in 1997 to 23 per cent in 2007.

Finally, there is an inference that the rise in the number of teaching assistants is at the expense of teachers. In fact, we are investing in more assistants to give teachers greater hands-on support and the resources to raise standards and deliver key reforms, and ultimately freeing them up to do what they do best: teach.

Jim Knight Minister for Schools, Department for Educaation and Skills, London

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