UK: Increasing class sizes increase teachers’ workload

published 2 August 2017 updated 3 August 2017

In response to Labour Party figures showing that students are being taught in increasingly overloaded classes, UK education unions have urged the Government to act and improve students’ learning environments and teachers’ working conditions.

Education unions in the UK have reacted to figures obtained by the Labour Party demonstrating that over half a million primary school pupils in England are being taught in classes of more than 36 pupils.

NASUWT: No credible government strategy

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) believes that large class sizes are just one of the key drivers of the excessive workload blighting the teaching profession and fuelling a deepening teacher supply crisis.

The Government has “no credible strategy to tackle seriously and effectively the unacceptable burdens being placed on teachers”, be they generated by large classes, bureaucratic marking and assessment policies or any of the other issues teachers have identified, said NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates.

“This Government is failing teachers and the children and young people they teach,” she added.

NUT: Insufficient funding

Rosamund McNeil, Head of Education at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said that “far too many schools have to reluctantly increase the number of pupils in classes as a direct result of insufficient funding”.

She was also adamant that “quality learning environments can’t be maintained with more children in each class, and with less time for the teacher to keep on top of how each child is doing.”

The Government’s “cavalier attitude” to providing teachers with an environment which allows them to teach well is “deeply unfair” as “it undermines the chances of children with additional needs the most”.

She urged the Government “to match the tireless hard work and commitment of teachers and head teachers with a commitment to full funding”. If the aim is for all children to do well, the Government should be adopting policies which reduce, not increase, the numbers of students in the class, she noted.