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Unlawful' class sizes

PUBLISHED: 16:45 20 May 2009 | UPDATED: 10:42 23 August 2010

PRIMARY school class sizes in the borough are larger than the national average a survey has found, with some pupils being taught in unlawfully large classes. The Gravesham Teachers Association conducted the survey across 6,130 pupils in 28 primary school

PRIMARY school class sizes in the borough are larger than the national average a survey has found, with some pupils being taught in unlawfully large classes.

The Gravesham Teachers Association conducted the survey across 6,130 pupils in 28 primary schools in Gravesham and found the average class size was 26.54, compared to 25.80 nationally.

It also showed that 62 out of the 789 pupils that were taught in class sizes of 30 and above were infants (aged between five and seven years old) which was made illegal under Labour in 2001. It comes as government figures released last Wednesday show that 310 infant classes in England contain more than 30 pupils.

Brian Chadwick, general secretary of the Gravesham National Union of Teachers said: "Clearly the government's pledge to reduce class sizes appears to be unravelling at the edges.

"For all those primary teachers who are now facing the impossible job of fully responding to each child's needs in excessively large classes, this level of class size is a blow to both their stress levels and to teaching and learning.

"We believe that there is no excuse for infants to be taught in classes that even exceed the government's own targets."

Schools minister Jim Knight said infant class sizes were 'a disgrace' before Labour came to power in 1997 and insisted primary schools had better staffing levels than before.

He added: "We now have strong legal measures to ensure that almost all infant classes are below 30. The less than one per cent that are unlawfully large must take immediate steps to comply with the law.

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