Thousands more children could be returning to overcrowded classrooms as pupils in class sizes over 31 soars under the Conservatives
As children return to classrooms this week, new analysis from Labour today [Wednesday] shows that the number of pupils in class sizes over 31 has increased substantially under the Conservatives. This comes after news that secondary school class sizes are at their highest average level since 2001.
Labour’s analysis shows that in 5 years:
· The number of secondary pupils in class sizes of 31 or more increased by over 130,000, an increase of 43%
· The number of primary school pupils in class sizes of 31 or more has increased from already high levels by nearly 20,000, or 3.7%
Labour analysis of figures from the House of Commons Library also shows that:
· The number of secondary pupils in classes of 31 or more has increased since 2010 from one in ten to almost one in seven pupils
· The number of primary pupils in classes of 31 or more has increased since 2010 from one in nine to one in eight pupils
Coinciding with this increase in class sizes the gap in learning between disadvantaged pupils and their better off peers has not narrowed over the last five years, leaving disadvantaged pupils 18 months behind their peers when taking their GCSEs. Larger class sizes could also create challenges for teachers trying to give pupils individual support and attention as they return to school.
To tackle these inequalities, Labour has launched a new ‘Bright Future Taskforce’ to deliver a long-term strategy for children’s recovery and ensure every child has the chance to fulfil their potential.
Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:
“The Conservatives have turned back the clock on education, reversing twenty years of progress to reduce class sizes and ensure every child gets the dedicated teacher attention they need.
“Under the Conservatives the gap in learning between disadvantaged pupils and their peers had not narrowed for five years even before the pandemic. These Conservative choices are holding back children’s education.
“Labour has launched our Bright Future Taskforce to tackle the damage done by these policies ensuring every child can recover from the pandemic and achieve their potential.”
Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“The Labour Party is right to highlight this important issue. The proportion of pupils in outsized secondary classes is at its highest point in the last 40 years with 1 million children being taught in classes of more than 30. Class sizes have risen fastest in schools that teach the most deprived pupils. The historic practice of teaching poorer pupils in slightly smaller classes has ceased over the last five years due to funding cuts.
“This has a detrimental impact on children and young people’s education. Clearly with such large numbers in any one class teachers and support staff have a far harder job in ensuring every child gets the attention they need.
“Much of this problem has been caused by the failure of Government to address the shortfall in school places that has been an issue for many years. The lack of sufficient school and college funding has exacerbated this problem with many schools having to cut the number of staff to balance the books. Government needs to address this problem to ensure every child gets the best education they possibly can. Having a teacher and support staff dividing themselves between 30 plus children is not acceptable.”