By Gavin Mackintosh-
A sizeable proportion of teachers in the Uk have made the reduction of class sizes their top priority for the next government, according to a survey conducted by the National Education Union (NEU) has found.
The new analysis finds that nine out of ten areas have seen an increase in class sizes, leading to concerns by teachers who are under pressure to raise the academic levels of their pupils to match new standards.
Their commitment to campaigning for reduced classes comes after The Association of School and College Leaders Schools found that headteachers are being forced to increase class sizes to cope with funding pressures and the high level of teachers leaving the profession.
The National Education Union study found 89 per cent of constituencies in England have seen an increase in average class sizes since 2010. Meanwhile the union claimed that reducing class sizes came top among a poll of members who were asked to identify the policy change most critical to improving pupils’ quality of education.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said the overcrowding was an “inevitable result” of government policies squeezing the sector.
“The real-terms funding crisis has had catastrophic effects, including a direct impact on class size”, she said.
“Today’s analysis will ring true for every parent who has witnessed their school cutting teaching assistant posts, reducing subject choice, or organising fundraiser events and begging letters. This is sadly all too common and a growing issue.”
The finding comes as the NEU launches a pre-election campaign to highlight schools’ funding woes. The NEU want class sizes reduced to enable teachers to spend more time improving the education of fewer pupils in the classroom.
It’s latest analysis found that of 533 constituencies, 474 saw average class sizes increase. Almost a million pupils – 961,127 – are now in classes of 31 or more, up from 747,531 in 2011 – a 29 per cent increase.
The union found there was a 258 per cent increase of secondary pupils in classes of more than 36 students between 2011 and 2019. A poll by the Association of School and College Leaders Schools previously found headteachers are being forced to increase class sizes to cope with funding pressures and the high level of teachers leaving the profession.
According to the NEU, 34 per cent of teachers nominated a reduction in class size as their “absolute top priority” for the next Parliament, regardless of who is sitting in Number 10 come Christmas.
Nearly two in five secondary staff polled said this was their top priority, with 21 per cent of primary staff.
Bousted said: “Parents are no fools. They can see with their own eyes the impact of funding pressures on their children’s education, and the reduction in individual contact time that their child has with their teachers.”