Teachers urge the government to prioritise cutting class sizes


A third of teachers have urged the next government to prioritise reducing class sizes in schools to boost the quality of education in the UK.

It comes as the National Education Union released a study which revealed that 89% of English constituencies have seen class sizes increase in the last decade.

The union has suggested that cutting classroom numbers is viewed among teachers as the key policy change that will have the biggest positive impact on education.

Some 34% of teachers described reducing classroom size as an “absolute top priority” for the new government, regardless of who wins the election.

Whereas 21% of primary school teachers listed it as their top priority, that figure nearly doubled among secondary school staff.

Joint general secretary of the NEU, Dr Mary Bousted, said that school funding issues have had a “direct impact on class size” and that action is needed to ensure that pupils have more contact time with teaching staff.

An analysis of 533 constituencies revealed that 474 had seen average class sizes increase, with just over 960,000 pupils being taught in classes of 31 or more.

Demand for secondary school teaching staff is reflected by a 258% jump in the number of secondary pupils that are currently taught in classes of 36 or more.

The Association of School and College Leaders has also previously claimed that funding limitations are causing head teachers to rethink how education is delivered.

The latest government figures show average class sizes at primary schools are 27.1 nationally, with secondary classes at 21.7.

While the figure for primary schools is unchanged between 2018 and 2019, the size of secondary school classes his risen from 21.2 to 21.7 in the same period.

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