Fears over class sizes

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Primary school pupils are increasingly being taught in oversize classes, new Government figures have shown.

The number of youngsters spending the first years of their education in classes of 31 or more pupils, which is above the maximum sizes set down by law, has seen a large increase according to statistics released by the Department for Education (DfE).

This year’s figures show 280 key stage one pupils in St Helens are in classes of between 31 and 35 pupils, compared to 186 in 2014. The number of classes of this size also went up from six to nine.

It is a similar story for key stage two pupils, with the number of pupils in classes of between 31 and 35 children increasing dramatically from 1,258 in 2014 to 1,688 in 2015, with a further significant rise in the number of classes of that size from 38 to 52.

The number of pupils being taught in classes of 36 or more is also going up, from 73 last year to 110 this year. Since 2014 an extra class of this size has also been created in St Helens.

Legislation created in 1998 capped the maximum size of a key stage one class at 30.

However, St Helens Council stressed that while some classes in the borough at schools including Eccleston Lane Ends, St Julies RC, Legh Vale, St Peters CE and Eccleston Mere are above the recommended size these are all rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

A town hall spokesman said: “Several schools in St Helens have admission numbers that are not compatible with class sizes of 30 and in order to maximise efficient use of space within the schools, have classes of 35 in key stage two.

“The increasing number of pupils in classes over 30 in key stage two in other St Helens schools is mainly due to increasing migration into St Helens.

“Once an admission number has been set for reception, it remains in place as the cohort moves through the school.

“There has been a recent increase in families movinginto St Helens applying for primary school places outside the normal admissions round.”