Friday, 11 September 2009
THE VIRTUES OF SMALLER CLASS SIZES
An earlier one of my blogposts was on the subject of Teaching Assistants, relating to an Institute of Education study which states that they are detrimental to a child's learning. The given reason for this is that the pupils are not spending enough time with their teacher. A better conclusion than getting rid of Teaching Assistants would be to have smaller classrooms.
Some of Professor Blatchford's previous research would support this. Perhaps the most consistent finding concerning class sizes effects on classroom processes is that reduced class size is related to individualisation of teaching. At a time when the government is promoting individualised learning and personal tutoring, a cut in class sizes would have an instant effect. His 2005 research with Basset and Brown also stated that children in large primary classes were more likely to engage in passive behaviour, listening to the teacher, while in smaller classes pupils were more likely to interact in an active, sustained way with teachers.
These quotations are taken from Blatchford, Basset & Brown 2008
Smaller classes lead to more pupils being 'on task', which is of considerable importance, as this means a greater number of pupils are not having their learning disrupted by other pupils.
Blatchord, Basset & Brown 2008
If the reason for needing teaching assistants is because in large classes there are more disruptions, a reduction in class size would lead, you'd expect, to better behaviour and less need for teaching assistants. Teaching assistants would then be able to have a more focused role; supporting individual pupils with particular difficulties for example. A reduction of class size to 20 children per class in primary schools would need considerably more teachers but the investment would pay dividends. A cut such as this would lead to more individualised learning, reduce the need for personal tutoring which the government has suggested bringing in (at great cost), and is also very well-timed as the government is rebuilding schools at great pace.