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PPTA questions commitment to reduce class sizes

Media Release
28 February 2007

PPTA questions government’s commitment to reduce class sizes

PPTA is seeking assurances from the government that it remains committed to implementing the remaining recommendations of the Staffing Review Group – to reduce teacher: student ratios by two at every year level and provide more staffing for management and guidance.
PPTA research on class size released today shows that the 66 schools surveyed ranged from schools with no classes over 30 to schools with up to 30 per cent of their classes with more than 30 students. Overall, the research indicates that students spend one hour in every 10 in classes of 30 or more, and half of their time in classes of 25 or more.

PPTA president Robin Duff said large class sizes caused a number of problems.

“There is a lack of individual attention to students, limited constructive student interaction, constraints on teaching approaches, and resources spread too thinly.”

Mr Duff said large class sizes also meant fewer opportunities for practical work, increased marking pressure on teachers, more behaviour management issues, and safety issues associated with inadequate physical space.

He said the government had committed itself to “complete the implementation of the Schools Staffing Review Group recommendations on teachers in schools” (media release, August 25, 2005) but recent indications from the Ministry were not so positive.
PPTA had also been told that the curriculum staffing work stream - a joint Ministry and PPTA group set up to consider staffing issues – would not be able to make recommendations about staffing to the Minister.
“If the government is really committed to personalised learning, then surely reducing the number of students in classes in our secondary schools is a step in the right direction. School rolls begin to fall from next year, so class size reductions can be phased in without the need to inject huge numbers of new teachers into the system.”

Mr Duff said personalised learning resonated strongly with teachers, students and parents but it was hard to implement in a class of 20 and impossible in classes of 30 and above.

“With current class sizes a student might, with luck, get to spend just six minutes one-on-one time per week with each of their teachers.

“But if the government follows through on its commitment we could have students in small classes with broad subject choices and working effectively with teachers who have the time to know each child, and personalise teaching to their individual needs and aspirations”.


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