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Bigger Classes Blow for Battlers

Media Release 16 May 2012 – for immediate release

Bigger Classes Blow for Battlers

‘The most common question parents ask when their child starts school is ‘how big is my child’s class?’ said Paul Drummond, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF). ‘Instinctively, parents understand that the smaller the class, the more teaching attention their child will get and they are right,’ he said.

The announcement today from the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata that class sizes are going up uses carefully selected research to support its position claiming that it is the quality of the teaching that makes a difference, not class size.

Research conducted in our own country looking at the factors that make a difference for struggling children’s learning found that class size is a critical factor.

‘A South Auckland school study showed that learners with poorly developed literacy need smaller classes in order to have the support to become confident readers. Increasing class size would be in direct conflict with the Government’s goal to lift the performance of underachievers,’ said Drummond.

Further studies in the UK demonstrated that larger classes produce more and larger groups of learners and large classes have negative effects on teaching, learning and learners’ concentration. The studies also found that in smaller classes, teachers were more likely to spend time with individual learners.

‘Increasing class size will not help underachievers and will create unintended negative consequences for all kids’ learning,’ said Drummond. ‘No matter how excellent your teacher is, the bigger the class, the less time a teacher can spend with each student.’


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