Drop in large class sizes at Wigan primary schools

Fewer Wigan children are being taught in large classes with more than 30 pupils, new figures reveal.

Friday, 14th September 2018, 10:33 am
Updated Friday, 14th September 2018, 11:37 am
Fewer children are being taught in larger classes in Wigan, new figures have revealed

Government data shows there were 19 key stage one classes with 31 to 35 pupils in the borough in January, down from 20 last year.

A total of 589 children were being taught in the classes, compared to 623 last year.

None of the pupils were in classes of 36 or more children, according to the data.

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For key stage two, 2,145 Wigan children were in 68 classes of 31 to 35 pupils and 72 were in two classes of 36 pupils.

This compares to 2,317 pupils in 73 classes of 31 to 35 pupils in 2017 and 108 in three classes of over 36 pupils.

Average class sizes at key stage one have dropped to 27.3 children - the same as the national average and slightly below 27.4 pupils in 2017.

But key stage two classes in the borough have 28.3 pupils on average, which was higher than 28.2 last year and above the national average of 27.8.

Legislation was introduced in 1998 limiting infant classes to 30 pupils, except in exceptional circumstances and under the condition the class size was brought down the next year.

However, the coalition government relaxed these rules around six years ago to allow class sizes to be above 30 for several years if necessary.

Alan Lindsay, assistant director for education at Wigan Council, said: “We recognise the importance of making sure children are in appropriately sized classes and the benefits this brings to their learning.

“To achieve better class sizes we have been mapping the demand for places and have invested in expansions for schools in areas where we felt there would be a need for extra places through the creation of new classes.

“Through forward planning we have been able to maintain high levels of first choice school placements being offered to families.”

Labour, which conducted an analysis of the national data, concluded the number of children at key stage one in classes of more than 30 had increased across England by 160 per cent since 2011.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: “These figures confirm the Tories’ failure to provide a high quality education for all of our country’s children.

“This situation is totally unsustainable. If ministers really wanted to give every child the education they deserve, they wouldn’t pack so many five, six and seven year olds into classes of this size.

“Unlike the Tories, Labour would ensure that children aren’t crammed into super-sized classrooms by capping sizes at 30 for all primary school pupils.”