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Question regarding class sizes

(27 Posts)
Nowfindingdory Wed 03-Aug-16 07:24:33

I have an in year appeal coming up and wanted to know if there is a recommended number of pupils in science, technology and drama classes.

The school states that the governing body consider the class sizes to be too large. There are currently between 13 and 30 in science classes, 18 in drama and below 20 in technology.

prh47bridge Wed 03-Aug-16 08:51:38

There is no official recommendation. However, the NUT and others recommend a limit of 20 pupils per class for practical subjects such as D&T, science, art and drama. There is a British Standard which states that there should be a maximum of 20 pupils with one teacher in any one work area in England & Wales for D&T (BS4163:2014). This standard suggests the same limit for practical classes in all subjects in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Compliance with this standard is not compulsory.

On the figures you give the larger science classes may be too large unless those classes are entirely devoted to theory with no practical element. The other classes appear to be within the limit.

Note that the 20 pupils per class is a recommended maximum, not a target. A school is free to run smaller classes. However, unless there are physical restrictions (e.g. small classrooms) the school may find it hard to argue that it is necessary to keep classes smaller than the recommended limit.

Nowfindingdory Wed 03-Aug-16 09:34:48

I would imagine this would be for both practical and theory although I'm not sure. Those that have over 20 in a class would be the higher sets. Although I would expect it to be hard to have under this number as they would have to have 11 groups in which they have 9.

Would I be able to point out that they are below the recommended number in DT and Drama or is it best to ask them what their recommended number is and then highlight the recommended number on the compliance.

Sorry hope that made sense

prh47bridge Wed 03-Aug-16 11:20:59

You can take either approach. Personally I would use this when questioning their case in the hearing and ask them to justify why going to the recommended maximum class size would cause problems.

antiqueroadhoe Wed 03-Aug-16 14:27:02

Often for technology, more classes are put on than normal across the whole year, in order to keep the class number small enough to be ok. For example a school with 6 form entry might split the year in half and have 4 classes doing technology and 4 doing PE.

Although the class size for technology is a recommendation and not compulsory, if there was an accident and the class size was over the recommended number, it could pose an issue for the school.

Nowfindingdory Wed 03-Aug-16 17:18:20

Thanks. This was a question I was going to bring up at the hearing.

admission Wed 03-Aug-16 22:36:54

I think that the other point that you need to understand is that probably 90% of secondary school admission appeals will quote the large classes for DT, science etc as a reason not to admit further pupils. The school has to show reasons not to admit over and above having reached the PAN in a year group and this is one of the more obvious ones to quote.
The school does handle this by appropriate time-tabling and having more teaching groups. I would ask how many teaching groups they have for english and maths because that is frequently higher than the number of forms of entry and is of more interest as some of those groups will also be low (less than 20) in many schools.

cece Wed 03-Aug-16 22:43:16

DD does Textiles GCSE and there are 12 in her class. Her science class has over 30 in though as she is one of the top sets. The lower sets have less children in as they need more help.

Nowfindingdory Thu 04-Aug-16 08:00:49

@admissions there are 8 year groups consisting 26 although a few have 27. In the compulsory subjects there are nine groups (math, English, science and IT) which range from 13 to 30 in each set. As cece mentioned those in the top 2 sets have 30 and then 27 down for the other sets.

I also have the figures for all the pupils taking all the optional subjects in the tear group which are all below 20 in each set.

If my ds is not considering taking technology or drama which I know he isn't then would their claims regarding class sizes be irrelevant. I can see which subjects have spaces and sent a copy of his gcse options confirmation letter of his old school. He wants to do the same subjects and there is spaces.

Nowfindingdory Thu 04-Aug-16 08:06:21

Also how can I get around the comment regarding lack of computers. The pan is 210 and there is 213 in the year group we are applying for.

There are currently 246 in year 7 and 214 in year 11. Could I ask how they delt with the Computering issue as they have higher amount of children. I think year 11 would be more irrelevant as they had 214 in year 11 and the same figure when they were in year 10. How best to reword it.

Nowfindingdory Thu 04-Aug-16 08:10:51

Another point is higher number of special needs then other school which adds to Overcrowding. What would you say is high per year group.

What is the difference between statemented, school action and school action +. Would they all require a teaching assistant.

prh47bridge Thu 04-Aug-16 10:12:58

If my ds is not considering taking technology or drama which I know he isn't then would their claims regarding class sizes be irrelevant

If he is in Y10 or above then I would agree that class sizes for subjects he won't take are irrelevant.

Also how can I get around the comment regarding lack of computers

Another point that appears regularly in appeals. You can definitely ask how they cope with other years that are over PAN. Pointing out the numbers in Y7 would also be useful.

Another point is higher number of special needs then other school

Across secondary schools in England 12.7% of pupils have SEN. This is made up of 1.7% with a statement or EHC plan and 11% who don't have a statement or plan. These figures are from the 2016 school census.

What is the difference between statemented, school action and school action +

School Action and School Action+ have been discontinued. All pupils should now be on SEN support. This provides various forms of support as required for children with SEN.

Statements have been replaced by EHC plans. These are for children with more complex needs.

If the school's case talks about statements, SA and SA+ that suggests it is an old case that they are re-using and have not updated to reflect changes in the way SEN pupils are supported.

A school may need additional staff to cope with SEN pupils but it is not a 1:1 relationship. An additional SEN pupil does not necessarily require an additional member of staff.

Nowfindingdory Thu 04-Aug-16 10:32:16

The school just states in their statement they undated with over 80 with a statement of sen (ehc plan) . The figure in the statem is higher than shown on the numbers in the documents. Also the special needs is sectioned under ehc, sa and sa+ showing how many pupils in each of these categories

Nowfindingdory Thu 04-Aug-16 10:57:24

They have stated their teaching classrooms are 54sq meaning they are unable to sit more than 30 pupils. Is this for tutor rooms or just generalist subjects such as history and film studies. They have below this figure so would I be able to say that the figures show you have under that figure in tutor groups, what harm would be caused by adding one more to a tutor group in which would still be below the figure of the amount that could fit.

bojorojo Thu 04-Aug-16 11:00:58

The Ofsted Data Dashboard will have information on SEN children in the school. It may not be completely up to date, but it will give you a clearer picture. It appears they regularly take over the PAN so have set a prescedent. Therefore they have demonstrated they can cope with additional children through teaching group size and organisation. The schools around here have 7 forms of entry with 30 in a year group. 26 or 27 would be a luxury! In fact plenty of schools end up with 32 or even 33 in a year group after successful appeals. They can definitely squeeze your child in!

prh47bridge Thu 04-Aug-16 11:35:27

The school just states in their statement they undated with over 80 with a statement of sen (ehc plan)

That does sound like a high number of pupils on EHC plans. But if it doesn't match the number in the documents it needs to be questioned. And if they are still using SA and SA+ as headings I would wonder how up to date the figures are. It would be worth checking against the figures from the 2015 census which are on the government's school performance service.

The size they quote is for standard classrooms. Specialist subjects will generally need larger rooms or smaller teaching groups.

Nowfindingdory Thu 04-Aug-16 13:54:50

@bororojo, the school has 8 forms which is why the class sizes are smaller.

@prh47bridge, the actual number for those on ehc plans is 73 which includes sixth form. Where they have stated over 80 I'm assuming they are including sixth form. The figure for yr 7-11 is 63.

Im not sure how up to date the info is as I have recently just recieved this information which goes back to 3 years. By the information I've got it assumes this is the system they are currently or still using.

I will have a look at the government website.

prh47bridge Thu 04-Aug-16 14:51:22

That's still pretty high. If there are, say, 1600 pupils in the school you would expect to find around 200 pupils with SEN of whom around 25-30 would have statements or EHC plans. Of course schools vary enormously but 73 on statements/EHC plans is definitely high.

Nowfindingdory Thu 04-Aug-16 15:44:50

Is there anything I could say to respond to this. There are 1096 on roll. I think this would be the main point that would make their case strong.

Im also the only one appealing do will I find out on the day or if not how long g would I have to wait. If my appeal was successful how soon would my ds be able to start, would it be days or weeks.

prh47bridge Thu 04-Aug-16 16:06:57

With 1,096 on roll a total of 73 students with SEN would be low but 73 with statements/EHC plans is about 4 times what one would expect. Do they have special provision for SEN at this school?

The first thing is to check that it is accurate. It would also be useful to find out how many of these pupils would be in the same year as your son.

If the figures for your son's year are still high you should concentrate on pointing out that they have coped with more pupils in the past and make the strongest case you can as to why your son will be disadvantaged if he doesn't attend this school.

If you need help finding the figures PM me with the name of the school and LA involved and I'll take a look for you.

Nowfindingdory Thu 04-Aug-16 20:02:45

Yes the school has specialist providion for pupils with social and communication difficulties including autism so this could be why it's that high.

How would I know if the information is accurate as the info they sent came on a chart with info on sen, numbers in tear groups, fair access numbers, successful appeals, managed moves and school population (census) for the last 3 years.

There are 45 sen which out of these 14 are on an ehc plan.

Nowfindingdory Thu 04-Aug-16 20:25:30

Sorry I meant to say that there are 45 sen in this particular year group in which 14 are on ehc plans

admission Thu 04-Aug-16 20:49:12

45 on a PAN of 210 is 21.4% of pupils with a level of special needs and 14 with EHC Plans, which is 6.7%. Those are both high figures compared with national average, which PRH has already indicated in a post above.

To me this seems the strong point for the school 's case not to admit, so I would say nothing about SEN if you can.

A classroom size of 54 sq metres is fairly typical and would be suitable for all general lessons, including english and maths. If they are saying that they are appropriate for 30, then I would agree with them and point out to the panel how many of the teaching groups have less than 30. The difficulty is that the school will be saying they need smaller classes because of the level of SEN.

My inclination, as a Chair of admission appeal panels would be to say that the school, based on the information that you have stated, would be able to prove prejudice not to admit any more pupils at stage 1 of the appeal, but not a high level of prejudice. The over-riding factor for me would be the level of SEN in the school. It therefore to me suggests that you need to build a strong case for part 2 in terms of personal circumstances to admit. That is not to say do not have a go at stage 1 to demolish the school's arguments not to admit, as another panel may well not see it my way, because the rest of the arguments made are weak. It could be that the level of SEN in all schools in the area are about the same as this school, which would then influence the decision significantly.

antiqueroadhoe Sat 06-Aug-16 18:18:47

I can't believe they have 70 EHPs. Takes multiple people months of wrangling and proving to get just one, in my experience.

antiqueroadhoe Sat 06-Aug-16 18:19:02


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