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10th November 1995 at 00:00
As reported in "Small 'makes a difference' early on" (TES, October 27) Peter Mortimore pointed out the anomaly that, in British schools, as children get older, they move into smaller classes. This began in the last century, not on educational grounds but purely as a matter of logistics.

Young children are smaller, and so more of them can be got into a classroom. As they get older, they need bigger desks, and, obviously, fewer can be accommodated in one room. This was, of course, when children sat in rows in order to be drilled in the three Rs or in object lessons.

Another example of an imbalance of class numbers, as well as a contrast in teaching styles, was shown in the recent World in Action programme on overcrowded classes.

We saw a teacher in a local education authority school with a class of 37 infants struggling to hear some read, while other groups carried on investigative science or worked on practical mathematics. This teacher needed a much smaller class.

Then we saw a teacher in a private school with a class of 12 children who sat passively in rows while teacher taught them. She could have used that method with a class of 50.

NORMAN BRINDLEY 9 Ashby Gardens St Albans Herts

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