Yr 3 Class Size of 38

(41 Posts)
standingononeleg Tue 17-Jul-18 12:59:54

I've re-joined MN to post this as hoping for some advice. We've been given DS's class allocation for year 3 and he will be in a class of 38 pupils. I was pretty concerned about such a large class size and wrote to the Head to ask how this would be managed, teachers supported etc.

From what I can work out from HT's replies, DS' class will be taught by one teacher and two TAs (one of which is very experienced and has a teaching qualification from abroad). The TAs will be in class in the mornings only and will cover when normal class teacher is out for PPA plus PE/music lessons. There will be no TA in the class in the afternoon. The HT said the experienced TA would be in the class most mornings, but not all.

How worried about this should I be? Can I make a complaint about the class allocation? 38 is well above national average. OTOH, they have slightly more TA support than usual in the mornings though none in the afternoon worries me. Would you be happy with this? And realistically, is there anything much I can do (other than a move, which I'm considering but may not be possible for practical reasons)?

OP’s posts: |
petrolpump28 Tue 17-Jul-18 13:02:39

Awful. Isn't it illegal?

Pibplob Tue 17-Jul-18 13:13:26

I wouldn’t be happy with that either. I would email some sort of formal complaint explaining your concerns and see if any other parents that feel the same as you will send an email too.

Sirzy Tue 17-Jul-18 13:15:29

How are the classes arranged that they have ended with such an increase?

glitterbiscuits Tue 17-Jul-18 13:16:18

Classes should be under 30 for Foundation and KS1 per teacher. Higher level teaching assistants don't not count but are obviously useful for differentiated groups etc
Anything over 30 is frowned upon but exceptions occur.

In key stage 2 it's a bit of a free for all. I wouldn't like it. It's a big workload for the teacher.

glitterbiscuits Tue 17-Jul-18 13:16:44

It's all down to budget funding.

soapboxqueen Tue 17-Jul-18 13:18:16

It's not illegal and I suspect not much can be done about it. The school are obviously trying to work with what they have. Having a large class isn't an ideal scenario from the teacher's perspective either.

My largest class was 36 year 6. The biggest issue was space to fit that many children.


standingononeleg Tue 17-Jul-18 13:22:41

Yes I understand there's no legal limit once they get above year two. I'm quite worried about how DS will cope in such a large class size. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I can do a lot! I was told it's down to funding. The classroom is slightly larger than some of the mobiles so they should all at least have a chair and table to sit at <grasps at straws>

OP’s posts: |
standingononeleg Tue 17-Jul-18 13:24:45

Sirzy - I'm not sure re the other classes. They seem to have some years they take two and some years they don't. In previous years DS has been in a mixed class and I believe though don't know for sure that the two Y4 classes are significantly smaller. I feel sorry for the poor teacher TBH.

OP’s posts: |
NotAnotherJaffaCake Tue 17-Jul-18 13:26:02

Good grief, that's appalling. Start lobbying your county councillor, as local authorities are responsible for education funding. Is it an academy?

Slippersandacuppa Tue 17-Jul-18 13:31:42

All of our ks1 classes have 32 children. Reception has just taken on another TA for September (so one teacher and two tas) but have done this year with one. My son’s year 4 class has 33. One teacher who went after two months to do SLT stuff so a lovely teacher took over but was signed off with stress. Came back and finished off the year but it was a similar set up. Different TAs every afternoon. Utter shambles and massive gaps in learning - and that’s just with 33. I would be very concerned. Teachers can’t teach classes that size, not in the true sense and not what benefits children the most. It’s firefighting. And it’s all about the money. I am seriously considering pulling mine out if nothing improves.

BubblesBuddy Tue 17-Jul-18 14:53:14

Local Exucation Authorities give money to schools via a formula and it’s per pupil so the children are funded. If they had 90 children in y4 and Y3 added together, I would have 3 mixed age classes. Even if the y4 was 40, I still might expect 3 mixed classes.

What is the PAN and why have they ended up with 38? Is the PAN 45 or 30?

What I would guard against is 8 children being hived off and taught in another class. I would rather 38 in one class than be one of the 8 that was removed. Schools keep down the youngest 8 if you don’t keep an eye on them. This is hugely detrimental too (to the 8). All schools are funded on the assumption of 30 in a class so how have they got 38?

They are obviously ploughing through Maths and English in the morning with a lot of help. All the afternoon activities will mean a large group but there is probably more flexibility in the lessons and activities to accommodate this. Years ago 38 would have been normal by the way. It’s only in recent times that this is considered large.

petrolpump28 Tue 17-Jul-18 14:55:31

How do you know "schools keep them down" please?

BubblesBuddy Tue 17-Jul-18 14:57:41

Good teachers can teach 33. It’s not many more than 30. Of course it’s not ideal but it’s only for a year. Classes can go up in size due to appeals and schools named on “statements” and children in care who take priority and will be admitted. If a school is running class sizes of 24 it’s very rich and has plenty of money! They are not funded this generously so you might not find class sizes are much smaller elsewhere, slippers. Or indeed sustainable.

Hangingaroundtheportal Tue 17-Jul-18 14:59:23

My first ever class was a class of 34, it was awful.

38 sounds horrendous, the poor teacher, and poor kids!

admission Tue 17-Jul-18 15:01:31

The starting point for any discussion on this is what is the PAN for the school in year 3 and were the kids in the year group in year 2.
A class of 38 is going to be difficult for all concerned, especially the teacher, so one has to hope that this is not all based on finance based on pulling in as many as you can into the year group.

PlateOfBiscuits Tue 17-Jul-18 15:03:08

My largest class was 33 and that was hard enough. A class size of 38 sounds awful. I feel so sorry for the teacher.

BubblesBuddy Tue 17-Jul-18 15:03:46

Because I used to work in education and there are plenty of threads on MN about this problem. One poster recently talked about her DD being kept in Yr with several others whilst the main class was a stand alone Y1. The children are not chosen on ability, they are chosen in age (summer born) so are assumed to be behind! That’s rubbish of course but I’m really saying be very careful what you wish for because staying down a year (albeit doing your correct curriculum) can lead to all sorts of self esteem problems that are best avoided. I would have changed school as a Mum of two bright summer borns who needed to work with their peers. Assumptions about them being behind would have been ludicrous!

standingononeleg Tue 17-Jul-18 15:59:17

Typing on phone quickly, thank you for your responses.

Admission - the PAN was 40 in 2015, 2016 & 2017. So they seem to take in a class and a half each year? Not sure why that number, I think the local authority sets it.

In y2 I think they were in two mixed y 1/2 classes. DS’ class was mixed, he thinks the other class is too. In yr 1 he was again in a mixed yr1/2 class.

OP’s posts: |
Slippersandacuppa Tue 17-Jul-18 17:12:10

Unfortunately, it’s not just for a year here. It’s becoming the norm and the teachers are thoroughly fed up with it. One or two children are taken out at a time and that leaves over 30 with one teacher. There’s no time for mastery, creativity or individuality. I’m not necessarily blaming the school (although the last two in reception were admitted without an appeal and with none of the criteria you mentioned. I’ve been told the head had final say with all three ks1 classes. I know it’s to up the budget but at what cost?) and am aware that all of the schools around us are running at or over capacity.

I also agree that good teachers can teach classes that big but that doesn’t make it right or beneficial to the child. It becomes prescriptive learning, where children must sit and conform in order to learn what can be tested at the end of their time at the school. From everything I have read about various styles of home learning, foreign education systems and child development, our education system is fundamentally flawed. Of course funding is a major issue and I don’t know the answer to that. We haven’t got a drama, music or games teacher at the moment sad

But, in answer to the original question, I am very concerned about our class sizes and the lack of one-to-one contact our children have.

PatriciaHolm Tue 17-Jul-18 17:25:43

That PAN makes it make a bit more sense, albeit it's not great for either the teacher or kids.

A PAN of 40 leads to 120 children overall in YR, Y1 and Y2, which would normally then see 4 classes of 30 across those 3 year groups, one or more being mixed year classes.

Higher up the school, this PAN would historically again have led to some combination of mixed age classes in Yr3-6 of around 5 or 6 classes with 27-32 children in each, (or some complicated mix of say 2 classes of 20 in year 3, then 3 classes of 30 one being a mixed year) but the problem here I suspect is that cuts in funding have forced the school to consider cutting a teacher, given that there is no legal maximum class size in KS2. Hence 1 class in Yr 3 of 38.

grasspigeons Tue 17-Jul-18 22:06:49

My son was taught in a class of 39 officially, although a extra child was there in the afternoons with 1-1 support

I was very worried about it I wrote to my MP, local councillor and got very generic responses about how wonderful education was in this country.

Anyway, it was actually ok. My son made more progress that normal, the class behaved fine.

I am sure the teacher was tired with the extra marking and reports to write but it didn't seem to affect the quality of teaching or school experience. The room was a bit crowded which had a slight impact on the type of things they did.

You wont get any choice so I hope that is reassuring that it turned out ok for us.

standingononeleg Tue 17-Jul-18 22:33:33

Hi - thank you again. Yes it does all seem really complicated and a result of the school having to admit more than it used to. School places are in short supply in my area.

That's good it worked out for your DS grasspigeons I think we'll have to wait and see what happens come September.

It does make me angry though, that funding is being squeezed like this.

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Wed 18-Jul-18 00:32:16

Where I am a Governor, school places are also in short supply and our Head never admits above the 60 Pan. We are always full. Appeal panels support us. Never had a child come in on appeal (well not since I’ve been there) but we know that if certain categories of children applied, we would have to accept more than 30 per class.

A pan of 40 is a problem as stated above. You cannot refuse number 39 or 40. So the Head doesn’t have any option but to admit. 40 is not 1.5 classes. It’s 1 class and 10 children left over. Therefore 4 mixed classes over 3 years which is difficult to manage and, as you are discovering, it doesn’t work if there are vacancies in each year group due to insufficient income for 3 or 4 small classes.

It is way better to have a pan of 45. So 90 children and 3 mixed classes over 2 years. The Governors can ask for this. There would need to be consultation but it’s so much easier to manage mixed classes over two year groups. The LA may well want to see a larger pan if places in the area are needed. The catchment could be tweaked to help get a few more and take pressure off another school. I’m surprised the pan hasn’t been increased already. The Governors are not helping themselves, the Head or the children by sticking at 40.

BubblesBuddy Wed 18-Jul-18 00:35:24

It may be admitting more than it used to but it’s legally required to. It’s not really a funding issue. It’s a management issue which the school (Head and Governors) needs to sort out.

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