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ideal class size

(44 Posts)
sailorsgal Sat 22-Mar-14 18:44:07

ds in year 3 is now in a class of nearly 20 which concerns me as I chose private for small class sizes. When he was in reception there were only 10 which I thought was probably too small. I was told 15 was the max but there has been a bit of bums on seats exercise going on and I am now considering moving him.

inthename Sat 22-Mar-14 20:39:46

Most independent schools are between 15 - 20, smaller at pre prep age and then larger (up to 20 - 25) at senior age. This is still smaller than the average 30-32 in a state school. Its hard because too small could mean that its struggling a bit financially but as you say as numbers go up it makes you question. My ds is yr 7 of a prep school and they have 17 in a class in his year. The maximum for the younger classes is listed as being 20, but they do have a teacher and a TA for each class for all years.

trinity0097 Sun 23-Mar-14 08:14:34

Our max is 16 and that's right up to GCSE level from reception. Some kids who have left us to go to other independent seniors at 13+ report they are in classes of 24 - I taught smaller classes than that in my last state school I taught in!

Does you child have a TA in a class, as that changes the picture, as what children really need is someone during the lesson to help/check on/support, so if there is one person for 10 people then that is a great ratio.

sailorsgal Sun 23-Mar-14 08:27:14

Yes there is a TA but apparently no longer in year 4 which is a concern. They have had a parent doing voluntary which makes me think WTF. Ds loves his school and is happy but there is a lovely village school up the road.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 23-Mar-14 08:39:27

Below 15 there seems to be a lot more potential for squabbling etc. DD's class was 13 and 14 in year 3 and 4 and there seemed to be more upset than there is now in year 5 with 17. 15 to 20 it seems easier to get away from someone you do not get on with.

Tansie Sun 23-Mar-14 17:03:44

I was always of the opinion that class size isn't a big deal if the DC are 'selected' and streamed/set. I recall the infamous Xenia telling us that many GCSE (or probably IGCSE!) classes at her DDs north London private/s (NLC, maybe?) were 24-25 strong but that the lessons moved along at a cracking pace because all the DC in them were able to keep up.

I'm not sure I'd actuallymove a DC from a school if a growing class size was my only real gripe, tbh. You say 'bums on seats exercise' which implies that maybe you don't approve of the whys and wherefores of the increased school size? A successful outcome is dependent on 'fit', that between a DC and the teacher and with the other DC in the class. That may all change, year on year.

And be assured the chances of the 'lovely local primary school' having a) small class sizes b) all SEN and learning style and intellect catered for in one, possibly multi-aged class aren't very high, especially if 'small class size' is important to you.

Applespearsorangesandlemons Sun 23-Mar-14 21:01:06

20 in a class here with a full time TA and teacher in each class and current class is a 50:50 boy / girl split. Tbh I think that this is the ideal size, small enough for the teacher to know each child individually but large enough for the children to find their friendship groups and to properly set, make up teams etc. We went down to 17 at one point which I did feel was too small. I know that the head likes the classes to be around 20 and at times has taken them up to 22 e.g in year 2 when there's likely to be a few leaving after pre-prep. If the school is co-ed I do think that less than 20 can be a real problem socially.

Littlefish Sun 23-Mar-14 21:03:48

I agree with Apples. 20-23 is a perfect number as far as I'm concerned. Big enough for children to be able to develop friendships from a reasonable size 'pool', whilst a small enough number to give the teacher lots of time to spend with each child.

Lizziewarmington Mon 24-Mar-14 06:37:42

20 20 20 say again 20 wish Mr Gove would realise it and fund that if hereally wants to make a difference. Some schools are moving to 3 teachers between 2 classes of 30 but no TA.

MillyMollyMama Mon 24-Mar-14 07:15:04

20 is an excellent number in my view because it gives children a chance to work with a greater variety of children within the class and a have a choice of friends. When my DD was at prep school we had parents worried about 19 in a class but no-one actually left because the school was good and so was the teaching. You also have to weigh up that the village school will not have specialist teachers, or dedicated subject rooms, probably little competitive sport or the same array of extra curricular activities. If all you care about is small class sizes then the local school might be just as good. If your independent school does not offer anything more than the village school, I would query why you are paying for it.

Taz1212 Mon 24-Mar-14 08:19:02

Is it a selective school? I'm not convinced class size makes all that much difference in a selective school. DS has 27 in his class (selective independent) and it's a great school. The children seem to feed off each other and DS loves the buzz. I didn't consider class size when looking at schools. I was more interested in the things that MillyMollyMama mentions- DS has specialist language teachers, science in a science lab, art in the art school, endless sports and clubs to try etc that he didn't have at his state school.

sailorsgal Mon 24-Mar-14 10:07:00

No it's not a selective school. The increase in numbers is a problem though as there seems to be a lack of equipment as well. Unfortunately the nearest prep to us is another 15 miles away and £15000 as opposed to £12000. sad

TalkinPeace Mon 24-Mar-14 11:18:34

under 15 in a class means that kids never learn about waiting and sharing

the ideal is 20 to 25

in state schools its 30 to a class but that is more often than not under the management of two adults at all times

my selective private school was 30 to a class and then 20 for O levels and 10 for A levels

but the approach is more important than the absolute numbers

Impatientismymiddlename Mon 24-Mar-14 11:26:35

I think that 15-20 is perfect. Anything less and friendship difficulties arise very quickly. Anything more and mixed ability groups become harder to teach and learning isn't as fast laced as it could be.
One of the state schools near me has an average of 42 once they get to junior stage as they combine the two infant classes.
Why haven't the govt put a limit on junior class sizes like they have With infant class sizes?

Cringechilli Mon 24-Mar-14 11:33:26

I think it would be not less than 15 in a co ed school and not more than 20.

If a single sex school, the class could probably happily go smaller, about 11 or 12 kids. It would also be fine up to 20 ish if girls but if boys, I reckon 15 or less would be better.

TalkinPeace Mon 24-Mar-14 11:46:24

If a single sex school, the class could probably happily go smaller, about 11 or 12 kids
please no
11 girls stuck in the same room together week after week
bitch central

HolidayCriminal Mon 24-Mar-14 12:42:32

I recall the infamous Xenia telling us that many GCSE (or probably IGCSE!) classes at her DDs [private schools] were 24-25 strong but that the lessons moved along at a cracking pace because all the DC in them were able to keep up.


How does that work? Does the normal state school just leave loads of material out because they have to go slow instead? Does the private school have less time to teach? Does the private school cover the GCSE syllabus + a huge amount more? Or does the private school go on a repeat loop; so having cracked thru it all quickly the do a repeat loop time permitting?

TalkinPeace Mon 24-Mar-14 12:56:59

At DCs school the top set do more subjects in their lessons and extend into the next level of syllabus
the middle sets do the standard work
the bottom set do what they can

lottieandmia Mon 24-Mar-14 13:01:46

I agree that in small classes squabbling is a problem. My dds are in classes of 9 and 10. The younger one has benefitted academically but other than that it's not ideal IMO.

sailorsgal Mon 24-Mar-14 15:17:50

I must admit that friendships have developed better with a mix/choice of friends.

nibs777 Mon 24-Mar-14 19:56:15

Holiday...remember Xenia's children went to very selective indie schools such schools will be able to go at the fast pace to suit the most depends on the school ...but I would think the best ones do do a lot of enrichment work especially in subjects in which children can be significantly advanced like maths.

teacherwith2kids Mon 24-Mar-14 20:59:05

I would agree with the tone, if not the specificas, of most of the points already made.

I have taught a class of 16 - state primary - but the range of abilities was VAST (P7 - so below Year 1 level - up to 4c - just below the target for the end of Year 6). Equally I have taught a class of 32 where the range of abilities was, effectively, no more than a couple of years wide - and the latter was a) easier to teach and b) possibly a slightly better environment to learn in and for children to find their own peer group within.

For a 'reasonable ability spread', 20 -25 would seem to me to be ideal - especially on co-ed, there would still probably a minimum of 8 or 9 children of the same gender, even if the split isn't perfect, and that would give a good variety of freindship groups. It would also depend on the number of classes per year group. If only 1 class per year group, then having a minimum number of children for e.g. sports teams would seem to me to be important.

Tansie Tue 25-Mar-14 09:05:56

For 2 blessed junior (state) school years, DS1's class was 22-23 strong and it was great. The school had good SEN provision so those who needed additional help weren't slowing others down but were still 'included' where appropriate.

He's now in Y10 in classes of 28, some mixed ability, some set. It's just a few too many, really. The top set is small (genuinely G&T DC, 'GCSE at 12' style) as is the bottom-most set (10-12 DC); the rest are 28.

Impatientismymiddlename Tue 25-Mar-14 10:05:48

How does that work? Does the normal state school just leave loads of material out because they have to go slow instead?

I think it works like this:
The class get through the work more quickly because they grasp the concepts more easily and are able to complete the work more quickly. They cover more material and so are able to potentially obtain a higher mark (as they sit the higher level papers for which more material has to have been covered at a competent level). If they complete the whole syllabus and obtain an A* or an A grade a year or two early they then concentrate their efforts on other subjects or study subjects at a more in depth level to prepare them for A levels.
Obviously that is what happens in senior school. Primary school is similar in that once the syllabus material is all covered they move onto a higher level and are able to start senior school with confidence in their ability and are likely to be in the higher sets due to their performance level.
It does work quite well and a few schools that I know of follow that method.

iseenodust Tue 25-Mar-14 11:12:49

DS was in a lovely village primary in a yr4 class of 23 and the range of abilities was well-catered for. The gender split was more of a problem as there were only 8 boys and it was a one class per year school.

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