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Students Start New Year in Crammed Classrooms

Media Release
28 Jan 2008

Students Start New Year in Crammed Classrooms

Many parents relieved to be sending their kids back to secondary school may be less pleased to find them in classes of more than 30.

PPTA president Robin Duff however is hopeful a promised Ministry staffing review will help address the issue of overstretched classes by putting more resources towards those who teach them.

According to a 2007 Windshift survey on parents’ perspectives of secondary school teaching, most want each subject teacher to spend at least 15 minutes one-on-one time per week with their child. Currently though, students in average-sized classes can expect fewer than four minutes.

“Classes of 30-plus students are helping contribute to a situation where a number of young people are falling through the cracks,” Mr Duff said

The PPTA believes the average maximum class size should be 25 students, and fewer in practical classes where there are health and safety risks.
Parents in the Windshift survey would like to see them down to between 20 and 25.

For the first time, thanks to the 2007-2010 Secondary Teachers’ Collective agreement, teachers have contractual protections around average class sizes.
However the requirement for schools to endeavour to provide class size averages of 26 for teachers with two or more classes needs Ministry-level support to work effectively, Mr Duff said.

Mr Duff hopes a secondary staffing review promised by Education Minister Chris Carter last year will focus on encouraging more graduates and skilled tradespeople into secondary teaching, addressing the subject shortages schools are suffering and limiting class sizes.

“Improved staffing resources will mean more students will have the chance to work in smaller classes, and that can only be good for them,” Mr Duff said.
“By eliminating large classes the Government will help create greater engagement in learning and more opportunity to cater for diversity and difference. It will give teachers the chance to pay greater attention to each individual student”.

Other benefits from smaller classes were better monitoring of student progress, earlier diagnosis of student difficulties, higher levels of physical safety and students feeling more positive about themselves, he said.

“We have been promised that the issue of staffing would be addressed for quite some time and are looking forward to seeing it happen,” he said.

ENDS

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