Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Smaller class sizes will be a big boost to student learning

Smaller class sizes will be a big boost to student learning

6 July 2014

Smaller class sizes would make a huge difference to the quality of teaching and learning and is an important key to helping students succeed at school.

NZEI President Judith Nowotarski says teachers and principals welcome Labour’s plans to invest in education where it really matters – directly into teaching and learning.

“Smaller class sizes allow teachers to give more individual attention to students and this means that the quality of teaching improves,” she said.

Research shows that in smaller classes students are more likely to be attentive and participate in learning, and as a result they achieve greater success at school.

“This is particularly important for vulnerable children, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and those who start school behind their peers. *(1)

“Smaller class sizes allow teachers to give more individual attention to students. This means the quality of teaching improves. Students are more likely to be attentive and participate in learning and as a result they achieve better success at school.”*(2)

Ms Nowotarski says international studies show that the benefits of quality teaching through smaller class sizes go well beyond the school gate.

“Children who benefit from being in smaller class sizes are more likely to have better reading skills, complete their education, and have lower likelihood of unemployment.”*(3) *(4)

“This is why teachers and principals welcome Labour’s commitment to invest in education where it really matters – directly into children and their learning rather than in extra tiers of management.

Ms Nowotarski says the move to bring 2000 more teachers into the system is a far better use of $359-million than the National-led Government’s plans for big bonus payments for 6 percent of teachers and principals.

(1) 2008 conference paper by Professor Peter Blatchford and colleagues at the Institute of Education, University of London. In the paper (since published in 2011 in the prestigious international journal, Learning and Instruction), Professor Blatchford makes the point that class size effects are ‘multiple’. School new entrants benefit from significant potential gains in reading and maths in smaller classes. Children from ethnic minorities and children who start behind their peers benefit most.

(2) Teachers in small classes pay greater attention to each pupil. Students in these classes experience continuing pressure to participate in learning activities and become better, more involved students. Attention to learning goes up, and disruptive and off-task behaviour goes down (Resnick, L., Zurowsky, C., 2003).

(3)2001 Treasury commissioned working paper, The effects of class size on the long-run growth in reading abilities and early adult outcomes in the Christchurch Health and Development Study. The researcher concluded, among other things, that “lower class sizes were associated with more completed education as of age 21, lower incidence of unemployment spells, and conditional on experiencing an unemployment spell, substantially shorter durations” and, “We found that persistent class size reduction policies were associated with significant increases in Burt Word Reading performance from age 8 to 13” (p. 39).

(4)Long-term effects of class size, by Fredriksson, Peter; Ockert, Bjorn; Oosterbeek, Hessel.
Series: Working Papers 2012; 5.Publisher: Sweden Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy (IFAU)

"This paper evaluates the long-term effects of class size in primary school. We use rich administrative data from Sweden and exploit variation in class size created by a maximum class size rule. Smaller classes in the last three years of primary school (age 10 to 13) are not only beneficial for cognitive test scores at age 13 but also for non-cognitive scores at that age, for cognitive test scores at ages 16 and 18, and for completed education and wages at age 27 to 42. The estimated effect on wages is much larger than any indirect (imputed) estimate of the wage effect, and it is large enough to pass a cost-benefit test."


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Before The Quakes

Remembering Christchurch: Voices from decades past: The Christchurch I lived in for my first 23 years was where four-year-olds walked alone to kindergarten, crossing roads empty of all but a couple of cars per hour. My primary school, Ilam, was newly built on a grassy paddock surrounded by rural land... More>>

6-11 October: New Zealand Improvisation Festival Hits Wellington

Wellingtonians will have a wide selection of improv to feast on with a jam packed programme containing 22 shows, three companies from Australia, two companies from Auckland, one from Nelson, one from Christchurch and seven from Wellington. More>>


Bird Of The Year: New Zealanders Asked To Vote For Their Favourite Native Bird

Te Radar, David Farrier, Heather du-Plessis Allan and Duncan Garner are just some of the New Zealanders championing their favourite native bird in Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year competition, which kicks off today.. More>>


Werewolf Film: It Follows - Panic In Detroit

Philip Matthews: When you heard last month that Wes Craven had died and you wanted to pay homage, you could have sat down with any one of five of his films that helped reinvent American horror at least three times over three decades... Or you could just have watched one of the greatest recent horror films that would probably not exist without Craven. More>>


Werewolf Music: Searching For The White Wail - On Art Pepper, etc

If the word ‘hipster’ means anything – which it arguably doesn’t – it seems to be more of an impulse than a condition. One always headed for the margins, and away from the white-bred, white-bread mainstream... More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Leonardo da Vinci - The Graphic Work

The breadth of da Vinci’s work is incredible: from animals to weaponry, architecture to fabric, maps to botany. The works have been divided into themes such as Proportion Drawings, Anatomical Drawings and Drawings of Maps and Plans. Each section begins with a short essay. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: James Hector: Explorer, Scientist, Leader

Publication of this comprehensive 274-page account of the life and work of James Hector by the Geoscience Society of New Zealand marks the 150th anniversary of James Hector’s appointment as New Zealand’s first government scientist. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news