Gransnet forums


Class size for primary schools

(44 Posts)
granjura Thu 28-Aug-14 18:01:18

a friend of mine in the UK just told me he has a classe of 34, for 3rd year primary. Now if that happened where I live- the whole of the teaching profession would be out on the streets threatening to resign!
Class size here inmy village is 12 to 15- and 1 young friend is complaining really bitterly about a class of 20.

What is the size of your primary school grandchildren? Please clarify if State or private school. Thanks.

vampirequeen Thu 28-Aug-14 18:04:39

In my last three years of teaching I had 36 in Year 3, 35 in Year 5 and 31 in Year 1 (which is over the legal limit). We were told that the only restraint on the size of our classes in KS2 was the number of children we could fit into the room.

mcem Thu 28-Aug-14 18:19:55

When the findings of the McCrone enquiry were put in place several years ago, the maximum class size in Scotland was set at 33. Since then the agreed maximum at p.1 is 20. If the intake is over 20, classes are split - so an intake of 30 would be in 2 classes of 15. Further up the school, oversize classes may be reorganised into composite classes with a maximum of 25 but including children in both p4 and 5 or p6and p7.
I believe this works because of national agreements and the existence of LEA's. Powers are not delegated to individual schools and school policies can't override these rules.

ninathenana Thu 28-Aug-14 18:36:27

DGS attends a state school he was in a class of 20 in reception last year there are 3 classes for reception children. I don't know numbers for next month.
I remember being in classes of 30+ through out my school life.

Iam64 Thu 28-Aug-14 18:40:47

Classes of 30 at primary school here, throughout the 70's and 80s (my children) 30 for my grandsons.
My daughter has 30 coming into her reception class, in a school in an area of very high deprivation, with a high proportion of children for whom English is a 2nd language. Many of those children, as well as the local children, will have experienced numerous traumas before arriving in school. A proportion won't have had the benefit of nursery school or play groups. 30 children in the school our own children attended had a different feel to 30 children in any primary school in an area like the one my daughter works in.

Iam64 Thu 28-Aug-14 18:41:50

incidentally Granjura - union activity in France is different to that here in the UK. Teachers who strike in the way you describe, would be seen as unprofessional, selfish etc.

Gracesgran Thu 28-Aug-14 18:45:12

Not by everyone lam64 smile

granjura Thu 28-Aug-14 18:47:23

Thank you so much for those comments. So it is not standard at all for reception classes to be 20 max- as was stated on another thread the other day. I was so hoping that was the case all over. My kids also had classes of around 30 at primary school (in the UK) in the 70s. I remember being furious as there were 32, so it was decided to split the class- then at the last minute 2 families decided to send their kids to private school- so the split did not happen sad

One young British friend who lives near me in Switzerland had a terrible experience on day one of her little girl starting school. Little one, age 4 + another boy, went off on their own at lunchtime- whilst 'supervised' by the teacher - teacher screamed at my friend that she 'could not possibly be able to cope with a class of 20'!!!

granjura Thu 28-Aug-14 18:49:47

Iam64, I actually live in Switzerland (where I was born and bred) even though it is only less than half a mile from France.

I am thoroughly aware of that, lol, as I lived all my adult life in England and was a teacher for more than 20;)

POGS Thu 28-Aug-14 19:27:20

3 years ago my DGD did not get her 1st choice place because there was a limit of 30 pupils. The school rang 2 years later to offer her a place as a child had left and my DGD was 1st on the overflow list.

I believe that figure still applies to the schools here.

grannyisland Thu 28-Aug-14 19:45:20

In the last few years before I retired I went from teaching 25 - 33 infants in a city school to teaching 10 - 11 in mixed age group village schools. I would say, without doubt, that I felt the little ones in the large classes got a better grounding in 'the basics' than those in the village schools where my time was split between all the different levels. On saying that I'd rather my GCH went to the latter as I think all round it's better all round.

Purpledaffodil Thu 28-Aug-14 20:08:58

As others have said, 30 is the maximum statutory number in Yr R and KS1. My old school had standard class sizes of 32 in KS2. I moved there from a London Borough where classes were around 25. The difference in work load was startling. Marking, assessment and report writing all took much longer than I was used to. It was also much harder to give children the individual attention they needed.
Although my own primary class was 48 in the 1950s, those were simpler and less demanding times I believe for children as well as teachers. Are there any GNetters who taught then?

granjura Thu 28-Aug-14 20:50:48

Most of my old 6th form friends here (in the Swiss Jura mountains) became primary school teachers. Some years ago, I met up with one of them when I was visiting my parents in August, and she said she really dreaded the new school year, teaching 3rd year primary, because she had a HUGE class, and one of them was visually impaired- how am I to cope, she said. So I asked the obvious question, how many. You won't believe it, she replied, 18! I fell about laughing and she was most upset. I told her about classes of 30 in the UK, with non English-speakers, totally inclusion of children with handicaps and special needs- and she would NOT believe me. She said I was being ridiculous, as NOBODY could possibly teach like that.
I invited her to come and visit so she could spend some time in some of our inner city schools and see for herself- but she never took me up on it.

All this to say that English teachers have my utmost admiration and do a truly amazing job (and paid about 1/3 or teachers here..). And that we adapt to the norms around us- somehow.

granjura Thu 28-Aug-14 21:02:27

Thanks for your replies. I am off on my jollies (to Tuscany) in the morning- so will be signing off in a few minutes. So do excuse me if I do not reply to later posts. Ciao a tutte.

petra Tue 02-Sep-14 21:44:11

How did 'we' ever learn anything. Until I went to senior school I was never in a class less than 42. I was born in 1946. Most of us came out of it with a pretty good all round education. Mind you, that was under the old London County Council.

absent Tue 02-Sep-14 22:16:42

petra At my primary school the classes were large too - between 45 and 50. But teaching was much more formal in those days and we sat in paired desks in neat rows. If not exactly "seen but not heard", society's attitude towards children and children's attitude towards figures of authority were most unlike those now. Classrooms were so different from the way they operate these days that it is impossible to compare.

vampirequeen Wed 03-Sep-14 18:48:47

The curriculum is totally different these days too. Little ones have to learn so much.

I would prefer that KS1 concentrated on the basics....reading, writing and number rather than having to cover a range of subjects. Of course they wouldn't just do that but learning to read, write and manipulate number should be the core of the curriculum.

PRINTMISS Thu 04-Sep-14 07:40:35

Of course they should vampirequeen and when once someone can read and write then there is a whole world for them to explore. Even using the computer needs some literate skills. I have felt for a long time that if we give children too much too soon, then comes the time when there is very little for them to explore on their own.

Gracesgran Thu 04-Sep-14 08:05:21

Printmiss and Vampirequeen are you both teachers? As far as I am aware reading, writing and number are still the core of children's learning at this stage.

Aka Thu 04-Sep-14 08:20:08

National Curriculum KS1 & KS2 (what used to be 'infants' and 'juniors')
Consists of three core subjects
Art and design
Design and technology
Physical education

PRINTMISS Thu 04-Sep-14 10:30:29

No, sorry not a teacher, I just think that the basic for learning must be the ability to read - although I have a friend who is unable to do that, and manages very well - so perhaps I should keep quiet. But I do believe that if young children are encouraged to read and discover, then the world is an open book for them. I wonder if here, I might just mention that our son who has learning disabilities, and is unable to speak or write, is able to find in the Radio Times (almost his Bible - if it is not in the R.T. it is not happening!) the programmes he wants to watch/listen to,and we have no idea how he does this, since we do not know how much he understands, but being able to recognise words has obviously opened his world.

janerowena Thu 04-Sep-14 10:42:39

I was a classroom assistant when my son was young, in a state school with 30 or more children per class. It was an excellent school, and the Head told me that the reason her school was so high in the league table was because she spent all the money she could on classroom assistants to help with reading in particular, as once they could read they were also able to cope with exercise books in other subjects. There were two of us per class in the lower years, not just one, and we were certainly kept busy. But not one moment of the form teacher's teaching time was wasted. So when we moved and my son went to a private school, I complained to the governors when they decided to cut costs by getting rid of classroom assistants. I had seen what a difference an extra pair of hands could make.

Gracesgran Thu 04-Sep-14 12:17:04

Printmiss, everyone has a right to express their opinion so you should go on doing so. I just thought I had missed a change smile.

Thank to Aka for the Key Stage 1 & 2 curriculum - it looks like little has other than some of the names for the non-core subjects has changed.

janerowena what an interesting post. I am sure the head you worked with was right. When Mr Gove (there is no hiss emoticon smile) suggested that we should have fewer teachers, who were highly qualified and better paid, teaching bigger classes (early years I think), comparing it to the Swedish system, he missed the fact that those teachers, although managing larger numbers, are supported by large numbers of teaching assistants. When he realised that there acclaimed results actually cost more the suggestion disappeared smile

feetlebaum Thu 04-Sep-14 14:09:16

I just dug out a photo of my class in primary school - there were thirty-nine of us when I counted up!

Iam64 Fri 05-Sep-14 08:46:23

DD told us last night, that in her inner city area, classes of 34 are to be accepted. There are too many children who don't have a place at a school, much less the school of their choice.