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Class of 34 a concern?

(15 Posts)
ponderingThis Thu 09-Jun-11 18:03:10

When we moved here we talked to other parents and from that bought a house in the popular school catchment area. We've on the whole been happy with the school.

Their nursery has half the number of its actual reception intake. A lot of nursery children this year did not get places in the school but it does clearly state that a place in Nursery doesn't not guarantee a place in the school. The reason is they were outside the catchment area. The ones with older sibling had actually moved out since eldest DC got in. They kicked up a massive fuss and got places. I found out today they got places because the school instead of having two classes of 30 is now having two classes of 34.

How have the got round class limit of 30? Apparently it is a low birth year in area so the other school must have places.

Today I got a lot of unpleasant social pressure to sign a petition to admit last nursery DC with no school place at this school the DC is outside catchment with no older siblings at all and one of the other schools is closer to her house.

My eldest went through reception with 30 in her class and other class remained at 30. This year in Year one her class has gone up to 31 her teacher is senior and additional responsibilities mean she often away with TA providing cover. The other class has 34 in and at least one parent been told by this teacher relatively newly trained that she missed her DC problems because of the class size. The school complains that at KY2 it gets a lot more pupils as children from the good nearby infants school as they appeal to get places and avoid dire Junior school and the school has to take them bumping up its numbers to levels the head dislikes.

DC2 has I feel been often ignored in Nursery setting as very quiet and like eldest very young in school year. All our DC are quite and head down people and all young in the school year. No one else seems bothered but I worry large classes are not in my DC best interests am I just worrying about nothing or am I just annoyed because we followed the rules and I am now being spiteful?

dikkertjedap Thu 09-Jun-11 18:08:39

I think depends on the age of the children. If it is reception and year 1, then I would be worried. They are still learning to learn and unless the teacher is exceptional I think it is too much to ask from the teacher.

Runoutofideas Thu 09-Jun-11 18:11:20

I'm no expert, but I thought that if an infant class went over 30, an additional teacher had to be employed. If this is the case then it wouldn't worry me, but if it is 34 children to one teacher and one TA then I would be concerned. I feel that 30 is too many for the teacher to get to know well, so 34 would really be tricky.

It might help if any of the children have a statement which gives them extra support as it will possibly put additional adults in the classroom. My dd1's class has a little girl with full time 1-1, and the additional TA, while mainly helping the little girl she's employed for, also helps with the rest of the class and is an extra adult for the children to turn to.

ponderingThis Thu 09-Jun-11 18:28:51

Thanks - at least I know I am not mad to have concerns.

I'll have to ask some questions about extra staffing - and see how things go. Just worried mine DC will be the ones who fall through any gaps - especially DC2.

MynameisTerces Thu 09-Jun-11 18:30:50

Yes I think it is the age. My year six has 34. The kids are so big at 11 these days that it is a problem just fitting them all in the room.

LawrieMarlow Thu 09-Jun-11 18:42:23

In reception and ks1 they can only have more than 30 with only one teacher in exceptional circumstances ie a successful appeal. And that can only happen for one school year. After that some other solution needs to be found.

I wouldn't feel happy at 34 in reception tbh.

mrz Thu 09-Jun-11 19:05:24

It is highly unusual to have 8 exceptions (which would have to be the case for two classes of 34 to be opperating legally)

PanelMember Thu 09-Jun-11 19:35:43

Classes in Reception to Year 2 are limited by law to 30 with one teacher. If numbers go above 30 an additional teacher should be employed. There are some very limited exceptions to this, set out in the admissions code - where (for example) a child with a statement naming the school is admitted outside the usual admissions round or a child is admiited on appeal, they will be an 'excepted child' for the remainder of reception and the requirement to hire another teacher will kick in only at year 1 (assuming other children haven't left by then, reducing the number again to 30 or lower).

There are several things here that sound very odd.

First, as Mrz says, it is unusual (to say the least) to have 8 exceptions in one cohort. It might be worth asking the school how this came about; they can't give information about individual pupils but they should be able to say something very general about whether these children have been admiited on appeal, as a result of a statement, moving into the area late and there being no other suitable local school etc.

Second, if the 8 additional children haven't all been admitted on appeal or on one of the other 'excepted' grounds - which sounds unlikely, both because of the number and also because the appeal season is still underway so I'd be surprised if all appeals had been decided yet - it raises questions about how they were admitted.

Third, in particular, it sounds from the first post as if additional children are being admitted because the parents have put pressure on the school and/or other parents have signed a petition. Bypassing the usual admissions process in this way would be highly irregular. Unless the school is its own admissions authority (eg a foundation school), admissions should be handled by the LEA, not by the school going it alone (and especially not by the school admitting in breach of the infant class size limit).

It might also be worth asking the LEA for their views too (and especially about whether they are aware of the situation and have given it their blessing).

PanelMember Thu 09-Jun-11 19:39:44

I should also say that the fact that this has been going on for two years makes it all the more troubling. The current year 1 classes of 31 and 34 should certainly not have only one teacher, as any 'exception' expired at the end of reception.

southofthethames Thu 09-Jun-11 20:18:32

Why not ask your LEA about it? If they are aware of it another teacher should be or have been employed to deal with such big classes.

prh47bridge Thu 09-Jun-11 21:29:11

Agree with PanelMember. There is no way a school should be admitting children just because parents kick up a fuss and they seem to be taking a cavalier approach to the law on infant class sizes. If the LA isn't aware of what is happening someone should tell them.

admission Thu 09-Jun-11 22:30:10

This is a mess that needs sorting out. There is no way that the school should just be admitting all these extra pupils in year 1 on their own. If they are and the LA have done nothing about it then they are equally as culperable.
However there is no way that the 8 extra pupils in reception have been admitted without the prior knowledge and agreement of the LA, the mechanisms in place for the admission of pupils simply makes that not possible. So the question then becomes what are the school doing about it to be legal. By my count they need 4 extra teachers because there is no way in my opinion these are excepted pupils, so the school has to meet the ICS Regs.
There is of course no way that the school can afford 4 extra teachers, so that is going to be a major problem. Quite frankly I do not know what the answer is but I would suggest that you should write to the Admissions Manager at the Local Authority and ask them to confirm what the LA and the school intend to do to ensure that they are legal.
I suspect you will get a load of "horsemanure" about excepted pupils which is completely unacceptable. If that happens then the next recourse I would suggest is to complain to the LA Director of Childrens Services that both the LA and the school appear to be conspiring to break the infant class size regs and that if appropriate action is not taken to put in palce the right teaching staff within say a period fo 2 weeks you will report both the school and the LA to Ofsted on both legal and safeguarding issues.

ponderingThis Thu 09-Jun-11 23:26:39

Thank you for all the replies.

DC1 reception year both classes had 30 pupils - did have four people leave during that time but places were instantly filled with other DC - by end of the week.

DC1 Year 1 - this September at start of term each class has 30 pupils by end of first school week other class was up to 31 when a family who moved away 12 months earlier moved back. MY DC year 1 class had 31 by Christmas - family new to area. Since then 3 more DC had turned up and been added to other class- no idea where they came from or when or why. I seen class lists and spoken to parent helpers and someone who worked in that classroom as I thought it odd as I though 30 limit was pretty strict - but they say yes 34 - it not been announced it just happened.

Maybe they can do this as the full time TA who split between the classes and often takes my DC class - it not 'just' TA but has the highest TA qualifications?

Actually when does the 30 limit end? In a class of 31 DC1 seems fine but no idea what is happening next year in Year 2.

The school admissions is LEA controlled - and as far as I am aware appeals are about to start soon - I suppose it possible a few of the 8 have gone already but surely not all. I do not know on what ground they have been admitted - possibly not the huge fuss the parents made but something I am unaware of.

The petition is for the one Nursery DC still not accepted - DC acceptance would currently mean classes of 34 and 35 so hopefully the appeal which is in next few weeks will fail. Which sounds nasty - but I am think of my DC here and there are other schools.

I clearly need to find how they think this is legal - and very possibly contact LEA. Thank you for all the replies - I was so taken back how unconcerned everyone else is even DH I was starting to think I was being mean and a bit precious rather than having a valid concern.

ponderingThis Thu 09-Jun-11 23:29:13

I have made a not of your advice about how to complain as well - admission - just in case - so thank you.

prh47bridge Thu 09-Jun-11 23:40:55

The law is that you can't have more than 30 children with a single teacher. Only teachers count. A TA does not count.

The limit of 30 is for classes where the majority of pupils are in Reception, Y1 and Y2. It does not apply to Y3 and later.

No appeals should be decided until all the appeals for Reception have been heard. If they have admitted 8 through appeals without finishing the appeals that is the wrong process. Also, as appeals would be infant class size, children should only get places this way if mistakes have been made.

It is possible that the LA realised they had made a mistake, found that 8 children were affected and admitted them. That is legal and they would all be excepted children but, with that many children, I would have expected the LA to let them go to appeal so that the panel could sort out how many to admit.

Yes, you definitely need to find out their justification for what is going on at this school.

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