Rising class sizes
Cuts to school spending budgets in all regions of England in the last few years have forced schools to increase class sizes, reaching the highest numbers of students for a decade. Classes in the UK are some of the biggest in the developed world. Schools in Yorkshire reported having classes of 46 2017. In the last five years, the number of students at secondary school in a class of over 36 pupils increased threefold. In 2016 there were 17,780 state secondary school children being taught in classes with 36 or more pupils (BBC and Department for Education).
Teachers cited the following as causes of disruption:
- Disturbing other children (38%)
- Calling out (35%)
- Not getting on with work (31%)
- Fidgeting or fiddling with equipment (23%)
- Not having the correct equipment (19%)
- Purposely making noise to gain attention (19%)
- Answering back or questioning instructions (14%)
- Using mobile devices (11%)
- Swinging on chairs (11%).
Negative impacts of large classes
The National Union of teachers has said that they believe classes over 30 students are unacceptable, as it means all students there receive a poorer quality of education. Being a student in a large class can have a number of negative impacts on a child’s learning and wellbeing. Disturbances and disruption mean that teaching is interrupted, and over the course of a school day this can add up to an hour of lost learning. Over a year this can total 38 days. This means that students may get behind, miss work, or have to catch up in their own time. It can also affect their confidence and ability to understand a topic, because noise and disruptions in the class make it difficult to focus as there are so many people there causing distractions. Some children may find it particularly emotionally distressing to be surrounded by lots of other students, especially those who are prone to causing disruptive or attention seeking behaviour. Those who require additional support or more input from the teacher, such as those with dyslexia, may also struggle in large classes.
How online schooling can help
All students can benefit from this more personalised approach to education. It has been especially beneficial for those who have experienced bullying and social anxiety in school, where being in a loud class of over 30 other students has been upsetting. MyOnlineSchooling.com offers an alternative pathway to National Curriculum education through focused, disruption-free online learning from the safety of the pupils own home. Classes are small and are taught by experienced and qualified teachers meaning an end to any classroom disruption. Students are able to ask their teacher questions and collaborate with their peers in ‘break-out’ rooms. This means that pupils are engaged for every hour of the lesson, are not disturbed by other students, and they receive individualized feedback and support from their teachers.