Labour warning over 'skyrocketing super-sized school classes'
Labour has sounded the alarm over “super-sized” class sizes - warning that the numbers across primary and secondary schools being taught by a single teacher are “skyrocketing”.
More than 540,000 primary children are being taught in classes of 31 or more, while more than 21,000 secondary kids are in classes of 36 or more - the highest number for at least a decade according to official figures.
Labour said the numbers “expose seven years of Tory failure in our schools” but the Government argued the average primary class size had seen no change despite pupil numbers increasing.
Some 503,600 primary school pupils were in classes of between 31 and 35 as of January this year, while almost 40,000 are in classes of 36 or more - a number that has fallen since 2010.
Meanwhile almost 322,000 secondary school children were being taught in classes of between 31 and 35 - while the proportion of those in classes of 36 or more has risen from 0.2% in 2006 to 0.7% in 2017.
Shadow Schools Minister Mike Kane said: “These figures expose seven years of Tory failure in our schools. The number of pupils being taught in super-sized classes is skyrocketing while schools face the first real terms cuts to their budgets in a generation.
“This situation is unsustainable. If the Tories wanted to give every child the education they deserve they would ensure that children were not crammed into super-sized classes.
“A Labour Government would ensure that schools are built where they are needed, and cap class sizes at 30 for all primary school pupils.”
Rosamund McNeil of the National Union of Teachers said schools were being forced to increase class sizes in the face of “insufficient funding”.
She added: “This cavalier attitude by Government to giving teachers an environment which allows them to teach well is deeply unfair.
“It undermines the chances of children with additional needs the most.
“The Government should match the tireless hard work and commitment of teachers and heads with a commitment to full funding.”
NO CHANGE IN AVERAGE CLASS SIZE
But a spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “Just 0.9% of primary school pupils are taught in classes of 36 or more – a figure that has fallen from 1.1% since 2010 despite a rise in the primary school population.
“In fact, despite the number of pupils in England’s primary schools increasing, the average primary class size has seen no change.
“Standards in schools continue to rise with the latest Key Stage 2 statistics showing sustained improvement in reading, writing and maths.
“The department has also pledged to invest £1.3bn in core school budgets so every local authority will see a rise in its per pupil funding.”
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