United Kingdom

Class sizes are getting bigger to save cash as schools axe teachers

The majority of secondary schools are increasing class sizes to save money, a damning Ofsted report has revealed.

Schools are axing teachers as part of widespread cost-cutting measures which is leading to quieter pupils becoming 'lost' in bigger lessons, inspectors found.

They visited 16 primary and secondary schools in England last year, surveying 201 head teachers and carrying out telephone interviews with 18 of them.

Schools are axing teachers as part of widespread cost-cutting measures which is leading to quieter pupils becoming 'lost' in bigger lessons, inspectors found (stock image) 

Ninety-one per cent of secondary school head teachers reported that 'class sizes have increased because of their school's response to financial pressures'.

The report by the education watchdog, which only last week pointed out that most schools had been hit by a lack of funds, said: 'Most of the secondary schools that we visited had shifted to fewer but larger classes in order to save money on teachers.' 

One secondary school teacher told inspectors: 'Some quieter students get lost in a bigger classroom. It's hard for staff to get round all the students and support them.'

Forty-eight per cent of secondary heads predicted their school would be in debt by the end of the 2019-20 budget year.

A Department for Education spokesman said: 'We recognise schools have faced cost pressures in recent years. That is why we are providing the biggest funding boost for schools in a decade, giving every school more money for every child.'

Parents 'expect schools to teach children to talk' 

One in seven parents believe it is the responsibility of schools and nurseries to teach their children to speak.

The Department for Education childcare and early years study asked 867 parents, who had children aged up to five, about speech development.

Some 14 per cent said it was down to schools and childcare providers to help children in this age group to learn to speak and hold conversations.

The belief was more common in lower-income households (23 per cent of parents earning under £20,000 a year).

But Professor Alan Smithers, of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: 'Parents are the key to education especially in the early years. 

'It is very worrying so many are opting out. Any child whose speaking and listening is neglected will have a poor start to school and be likely to fall further behind.'