Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Developed countries have smaller class sizes

The Daily Mail reports that British primary school classes have a fifth more pupils compared to other developed countries. An international study has shown that only Japan, Korea and Turkey have more five to 11-year-olds in the same lesson. There are almost 26 pupils to the average class in state primaries here - despite widespread concerns over disruption and youngsters receiving less attention.

Pupils in Slovakia, Mexico and Hungary all benefit from smaller teaching groups. And our crowded classrooms come despite above average spending per pupil, according to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development. The Government invests £3,610 per child at primary level, against an OECD average of £3,549.

The group said Britain has 'one of the largest average class sizes at this level of education' out of 31 countries examined in its report. The average state primary class size for OECD countries in 2006 was 21.5, compared to 25.8 here. Its report said: 'Only Japan, Korea and Turkey have larger classes, while in 14 OECD countries there are 20 or fewer students per primary level class.'

At secondary level, however, Britain fares better, with 23.7 pupils to a classroom, compared to the average of 23.8.

But the study also shows the gulf between state and independent schools here is wider than in any other country. In primary education, there are 13 pupils more per classroom in state schools than there are in private ones. Across OECD countries on average, class sizes between the two sectors differ by just one or two students per lesson.

The study - Education at a Glance - said smaller classes are 'often perceived to allow teachers to focus more on the individual needs of students and to reduce the amount of class time they spend dealing with disruption', although it conceded the evidence for this is not conclusive.

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