Thirty's a crowd

25th October 1996 at 01:00
Michelle Ijoyah, 9, is in Year 5, at St Francis RC Primary in Peckham, south London. There are 30 pupils in her class I think there are too many in my class. I sit right at the back. Some people can't see the chalkboard clearly. If there is a problem, it is one that everyone at the back shares. Loads of people like to come into good schools like mine, and there is a big waiting list.

It takes a long time for my teacher to get to me because everyone has their hands in the air. You can have a question, but so many people also have them. I would like her to talk to me more.

I think the classrooms should be bigger. If I had a choice I would split the class and get more teachers. When you have too much attention you might get a bit silly, but I don't know.

Crowded classes can ruin your education. If I don't see the chalkboard, I don't get much of the work.

Things take ages and there is a long queue.

It can be quite chaotic because some people try to take advantage. They muck about.

I wouldn't want to become a teacher in a classroom like the one I'm in now.

If I was a teacher with 30 in my class, I would have to shout just to be heard. I couldn't cope.

I think the best size is 19. Everyone could then see the board. It's enough for a teacher to cope with. Teachers must think the size of these classes are ridiculous but they don't have any choice.

What's my definition of an overcrowded class? It is a crowd not a class.

Ellie Harries, 9, is in Year 5 at Primrose Hill Primary School, north London. There are 29 pupils in Ellie's class.

Twenty-nine children are too much for one class. I think am in an overcrowded classroom because when the split-list [children from other classes] come in there's not enough room for everyone so they have to sit on the carpet.

We have tables and you can sit where you like. If we choose the right place to sit we can see the chalkboard. When we don't, people are in the way of the view and it becomes too difficult.

I would prefer to stay with my class now rather than be moved to a smaller one for the rest of the year because of the friends I've made, but it would be better if the classroom we worked in was bigger. When you're with other people you sometimes can learn more from them, so that is one good thing about having so many friends.

The ideal class size is 25. It is hard for a teacher to cope with much more. I think our school is so crowded because we had such a good OFSTED report and everyone wants to come into our school.

Teachers have a hard job. The size of the class affects how a teacher acts. It is such a small room, with so many people in it, she ends up asking other people to give out the work. She also can't mark your work as quick as a flash.

If I was a politician I would make classes smaller. Badly-behaved children would improve if they had more attention. When some kids with learning difficulties are given an adult tutor to help them, they seem to get a lot better. So if one adult can improve the work of one student, I think all students would do better with more teachers to go around.

At the moment the kids are quiet when the teacher says "10 minutes in silence!", but if we're doing something about music we can make as much noise as we like and it gets really noisy.

Children's Express is a programme of learning through journalism for children aged eight to 18. A charity, it provides a news service that promotes the views and investigations of young people. Inquiries to: Children's Express, Exmouth House, Pine Street, London, EC1 OJH. Editor Daniel Blackwood, 15, and reporter Sinead Kirwan, 11, interviewed Ellie and Michelle. They were helped by editor Delwar Hussain, 17.

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