In the run up to the General Election I’m going to be writing a little bit about some of the Ed policies as they come out. It’s mostly for my Facebook friends (who are generally conservative) so not aimed at usual readers of this blog. Anyway, you might find it helpful or interesting. Let me know if you have anything to add…

Some tentative thoughts on Corbyn’s class sizes announcement for anyone that cares:

1) it’s probably a decent vote winner, especially in the middle classes. Everyone wants their little jonny to get personal attention from Teacher.

2) Corbyn definitely got his numbers in a muddle. He was also talking about primary not secondary (probably). However these details are probably a bit wonkish – most people will just look at it and go “yeah I agree classes should be smaller”

3) the research is clear that reducing class sizes does not improve attainment until you get to sizes of about 15-20

4) this seems counter intuitive as students would receive less individualised feedback

5) to me, this just shows that the bulk of teacher effectivity is not about delivering personalised learning, but in delivering high quality whole-class instruction + practice based in an appreciation that most of the time, most of us learn in exactly the same way.

6) Generally, big classes are probably harder to deal with in terms of behaviour. But anecdotally I have had big classes which are fine and small ones which are difficult.

7) The workload for teachers of big classes is high in terms of the absolute amount of marking.

8) personally, I probably actually mark *less* when I have a big class. This is because it’s such a big task I push it off more and do it less regularly

9) as an aside, marking is normally a waste of time

10) I reckon most (secondary) schools could have class sizes of max 25. But that would mean increasing the sizes of bottom sets and decreasing the sizes of top sets.

11) I don’t think that’s desirable

12) bearing in mind this policy would be mega £££-heavy I reckon the policy would just be “make classes smaller, but you can’t have more money to do so”

13) which would make 10 inevitable 

14) I’m happy that Corbyn is focussing on education. According to Ipsos/Mori it is not an important consideration to most people so I welcome it becoming an election issue

15) unfortunately, I think the focus is wrong. As with his universal free meals pledge I think it totally misses the genuine problems schools are facing: tightened budgets, redundancies, teacher workload, recruitment and retention and student behaviour. 

References:

Reality Check: How many children are in classes of more than 30? – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39666686

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb12/vol69/num05/Teaching-to-What-Students-Have-in-Common.aspx
https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/resources/teaching-learning-toolkit/reducing-class-size/
https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3832/A-rise-in-those-who-think-the-NHS-and-povertyinequality-are-important-issues-facing-Britain.aspx

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