Hundreds of pupils were already being taught in classes of over 70 pupils
, claimed the Daily Telegraph
on 18 August 2014 (reproduced on Schools Improvement Net
‘According to official data, both the Crescent Academy in Stoke-on-Trent and Southey Green primary school in Sheffield have the biggest classes, with 78 pupils to one teacher at each of the schools. They are followed by the White Hall academy in Essex, which has 77 pupils to a class, and Newdale Primary school in Telford which has 72.’
What was the official data used by the Telegraph for its analysis? School Performance Tables for 2013 showed none of the named primary schools had a teacher/pupil ratio higher than the limit of one teacher for 30 pupils. This was confirmed in the DfE response
to my Freedom of Information request:
‘The Pupil-teacher ratios for the schools to which the article referred - Crescent Academy, Southey Green Primary School, White Hall Academy and Newdale Primary School - are 20.8, 20.9, 21.6 and 23.6 respectively.’
So where did the 70+ class size claim come from?
’s figures were based on data submitted by schools on school census day in November 2013*. If a school had a multi-class assembly led by just one teacher on census day then the school had to record the fact, the DfE explained. The real reason for the titan classes was not, as the Telegraph claimed, ‘immigration and the baby boom’ but because one teacher led the whole school in hymn singing and this multi-class assembly happened to take place on school census day.
That’s not to say that shortage of primary school places in certain areas is not a serious problem which needs to be tackled, but to claim that there are already ‘hundreds of pupils’ being taught in classes of 70+ is misleading.
has since removed the paragraph quoted above
from the on-line version although the paper has not said the article has been changed. The removed section remains on other websites including Schools Improvement Net
, Teaching Times
and Federation of Leaders in Special Education.
*November 2013 school census figures were in Statistical First Release (SFR) ‘Schools, pupils and their characteristics: January 2014’ released on 12 June 2014.