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Class sizes on the rise

8 July 2019

Photo kzenon/shutterstock.com.

The disaster that is government education “policy”, combined with savage reductions in spending, continues to have repercussions across the country. New figures from the Department for Education show that class sizes in England’s secondary schools have risen by the equivalent of one extra pupil per class in just two years. 

As of January 2020, the average class size in state secondary schools was 21.7 pupils, up from 21.2 last year. In 2017, the average secondary class size was 20.8 pupils.

Rise in pupil numbers

Overall, there are now 84,700 more children in the nation’s schools compared with the same point last year – the fifth year in a row there has been a rise in secondary school pupil numbers. 

And there are fewer teachers to teach them. Figures released in November 2018  for the start of the academic year showed a drop of 0.3 per cent in secondary teacher numbers compared with the previous year.

And while the government figures also show that the overall proportion of teachers leaving the profession (9.8 per cent) was lower than the previous year – the proportion of those leaving within a year of qualifying rose to above 15 per cent.

Teaching assistants hit, too

The crisis in education funding is also leading to huge cuts in numbers of teaching assistants (TAs), according to a report for the government  carried out by ASK Research. Primary and secondary sectors are both affected.

A Department for Education study found 38 of 60 schools quizzed have either reduced the number of TAs in their schools in the past two to three years, or intend to reduce them in the coming year, with funding cuts being cited as the main reason. 

In addition, many schools had opted not to replace TAs who had left or cut TA numbers to avoid sacking teachers.