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Impact of smaller class sizes?

(23 Posts)
2MuchT Fri 19-Oct-12 20:32:40

I'm considering moving DS to a school with 20 in a class as opposed to the 30 he has currently. Obviously there are more factors involved than just class sizes but I wondered if there is any evidence of how a smaller or larger class might effect outcomes for children - and I'm talking about here in the UK specifically. Does the difference of plus or minus those 10 children make that much difference to their learning and their school experience?

JammieMummy Fri 19-Oct-12 21:43:45

Hi. I don't know of any specific research, but I have a lot of friends who are teachers and almost all of them say it is the last 5 children (from 25 to 30) who make all the difference to the disruption of the class. If 5 children are off ill etc then there job is so much easier as they suddenly seem to have enough time to get round all the students. It doesn't need to even be the disruptive ones that are off.

I am not sure how helpful this is but I think logic says to me that the less children there is less chance they will be overlooked. Especially if like me you have a very quiet child who automatically stands back and struggles to make themselves heard. That being said I think you have the right approach in looking at all factors and making an informed choice.

Good luck

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Fri 19-Oct-12 21:48:44

The only thing to be wary of in a smaller class is what are the opportunities for forming friendships? Are there any DC's that seem to be on the same 'wavelength' as your DC?

If you have a 6yo DS, who hates football but loves tennis, they may feel very isolated if there are only 7 other boys in their class (easily happens, a girl heavy class of 20 having 12 girls, 8 boys) who ALL love football and bond over their shared interest.

Educationally, excellent. Socially (and you just CAN'T discount the social aspect of school), could be fine, could be terrible.

countrybump Fri 19-Oct-12 21:51:57

There is some research into this, and I think the findings were that the quality of the teaching makes more difference than the class size. In other words, it's better to have a good teacher and a class of 30 than a poor teacher and a class of 20.

lljkk Fri 19-Oct-12 22:00:18

I wonder if it's risky if your child is relatively unusual (quite high or low ability). They won't have as many peers to work with.

ICantFindAFreeNickName Fri 19-Oct-12 22:09:22

I agree that the social side can sometimes be a bit of a problem with small class sizes. My DD was one of only 8 girls in a class of 19 which made it difficult if there were any fallings out.

exoticfruits Fri 19-Oct-12 22:20:05

As a teacher I love 20, it gives time for individual attention. However I wouldn't want less than 16- it does cause problems socially and for groups etc.

alcofrolic Fri 19-Oct-12 23:00:59

My perfect number is 24.
Fabulous for group work.
You can get to know them all.

exoticfruits Fri 19-Oct-12 23:03:01

I would agree with 24.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 20-Oct-12 13:23:42

DH goes to lots of schools.
Ones with class sizes under 20 (both state and private) often have issues with kids not used to having to share and wait their turn.
In Primary, classes of 30 are rarely run by only one person - often LSAs in the room too
and as has been said, the teacher is the single overriding factor.

He often takes whole school groups and year groups and finds that because he's totally used to it he can control big groups - teachers comment on his control over their classes.

A teacher who has not learned the crowd control parts of the job will fail with even a small group.

exoticfruits Sat 20-Oct-12 13:47:33

From the teachers point of view 24 is better than 30. If you spend only 5 minutes marking a book, that is a saving of 30 mins. If you mark 3 sets per night you have saved yourself one and a half hours!

BlastOff Sat 20-Oct-12 13:55:15

We're currently looking at private over state almost entirely because of this. There are other factors of course, but predominantly it is because Ds is quiet and even his very small and very lovely nursery say it has taken six months to get to know him. I'm worried that he will be overlooked and/or cruise at the back in a class of 30. It is however useful to also consider the downsides, such as not learning to wait your turn, not having a big peer group etc. which to be honest I hadn't really thought about that much. I'd just thought smaller=better. The schools we've seen have had class sizes of 10-16.

exoticfruits Sat 20-Oct-12 14:00:40

A small class can be a nightmare if you have a clash of personalities or a very dominant personality.

BackforGood Sat 20-Oct-12 14:13:50

I think 22-24 is the perfect size. I'd be keen on a school that had 20 in the class if I knew the reasons for it.... there might be reasons why they are running with so many empty places ???

TalkinPeace2 Sat 20-Oct-12 14:14:32

10-16 sounds too small
I'd question the economics of the school that small (many are going bust with little or no warning)

SoldeInvierno Sat 20-Oct-12 15:55:22

my reference is only anecdotal, but here we go. My DS moved from a class of 30 to a class of 13 in year 3. The difference was noticeable within 2 weeks. The teacher suddenly had time for him, so he tried to impress her, whereas before his laziness had gone totally unnoticed. Socially it was fine as well, as there were 2 groups of 13 to 16 per year so enough boys and girls to find plenty of common interests. Especially taking into account they normally play with year 2 and year 4 as well.

BlastOff Sat 20-Oct-12 16:40:34

There were two classes in each year in one school we looked at, but just 10-12 in each class, and then the other had just one class per year which had 16 in it. I'd be delighted to find a state school with a class size of less than 30; not one we've looked at round here has, all the schools are full to capacity. And they were chaotic! My youngest ds, who is head strong and confident, would be fine in that environment, but I'm concerned the elder one will just sink.

2MuchT Sun 21-Oct-12 10:58:39

Thanks all, very interesting to hear your views. I know there are lots of factors involved and in this case it is really a private v state issue but I know that has been covered to death on here and was trying to look at the main reason as to why DS might benefit from this other school where he has a year one place - He is currently in reception at a lovely state school where he is doing really well, although he isn't one to push himself forward, put his hand up etc. But it is early days. The other school is single sex and selective with classes of 20. Although he is very happy where he is and I would just love to leave him there till 11 I am wondering if it is worth making some sacrifices (financially and in having a slightly longer journey in the mornings) to send him somewhere where he would get a bit more individual attention. So the difference a small class size makes seems to be one of the key decision making factors - thanks again

iyatoda Sun 21-Oct-12 11:28:03

As per the social side, in my DS1's former school there were 8 boys and 22 girls so the inequal numbers can still happen in large class sizes.

In new school KS1 starts at 15 and in KS2 they go up to 24. I really can see the logic in this and wish the resources was there so that state schools can adopt same priciple.

In KS1 the children need a lot of attention and if you can settle them quickly it minimises disruption later on. DS1 said to me he is stunned at how quiet his class is when teacher is speaking, everyone just listens, He said no chance of that happening at former school.

The way I work it out is if in a class of 30 there are 15 disruptive children and they each take 5 mins a day to settle, that is 75mins wasted already.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 21-Oct-12 11:35:15

Small classes are not only a private school thing - DH has worked in parts of Wales where whole schools only number 50 kids (YR - Y6) - and the problems are the same.
State schools tend to combine year groups, but schools with less than 100 pupils are not uncommon - they can be spotted in the league tables as detailed data is suppressed as it would identify children.

Maybetimeforachange Sun 21-Oct-12 15:04:49

My DD is in a class of 20 with a TA and a teacher, both full time. The imact on her has been amazing, lots of individual attention, the teacher knows all the children really well yet the class is big enough for the children to find their own groups of friends. My DS is in a class of 30 and as a confident child is has been absolutely fine, I have no issues whatsoever with him being in a class that size, it is well managed, behaviour is generally good and it has not held him back at all.

I certainly wouldn't move a happy thriving child to a new school just because of the class size and personally I feel that a class much below 20 is too small socially and too claustrophobic in the long term, it might be ok for a 4 year old but by the time they reach the top of the school I think that they will be sick of each other. The downside of smaller classes is that there is more opportunity for micro managing. Certainly in DD's class the teachers get more involved with minor spats which don't really need their input that in a bigger class would be left to the children to resolve.

2MuchT Sun 21-Oct-12 21:24:58

Thanks, obviously the class size isn't the only reason for moving him,

2MuchT Sun 21-Oct-12 22:24:43

Pressed send too soon - but just to say thanks again for responses - as I said before, many factors involved and I wouldn't move him if he's thriving based solely on class sizes, but I want to look at what will be best for DS in the long run. The fact that he is bright but quiet and doesn't speak much in class suggests to me that a smaller class might help. The private school is also single sex and also sends all the boys on to senior schools that are great, whereas I'm not so sure about the schools that our current school feeds into. It is also quite a religious school and we are not at all religious, so that is part of the mix too. Anyway, i've gone off topic so will stop rambling on the subject now - thanks again

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