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Head teacher expands 70-pupil classes

05/07/2012 Joanna
Large class sizes are traditionally considered a bad thing, but one head teacher's controversial experiment to introduce 'super-size' classes to a Norfolk school is being extended to all year groups after being deemed a success.

Pupils at Bure Valley Junior School in Aylsham are now taught in classes of up to 70 children after entire year groups were merged into a single classroom. Recent figures show that the average primary school class size in the UK is 24.5.

The trial was initially conducted among years three and four, but after careful study of its effects head teacher John Starling has decided to expand it across the school to include Years 5 and 6, the Press Association reported.

Having first launched the experiment in February 2011, Mr Starling placed all 70 Year 3 children into a single class, with two primary school teachers supported by three teaching assistants.

A similar move was made with Year 4, but the 60 pupils have one less teaching assistant in their classroom.

"I have no regrets at all. Big classes are working," the 50-year-old head teacher told the news agency. "I think we will have four classes of 70 eventually."

While Mr Starling believes that he may have created the largest classrooms in the country, he is adamant that the experiment has proved successful and says that monitoring has shown pupils at the schools are making improved progress in key subjects.

He also believes that it makes life easier for the school's teaching staff because they have colleagues close by to support them and children benefit because they get to work closely with teachers in groups.

According to education watchdog Ofsted, the school is classed as 'good' with certain elements rated as 'outstanding', and a recent report said that the new structure was key to helping improve standards.

With older children at the south-west primary now set to join the single super-sized classroom revolution, the school has redesigned its layout to better accommodate the change in structure.

Three concentric circles have been created which feature a 'quiet' zone at the centre, classrooms around this and an area for noisy activities along the outer area.

To facilitate the restructuring, the County Council's education authority has invested in a major renovation of the school with a £3 million programme that will "challenge traditional assumptions about school architecture" the news provider said.

Posted by Theo FouldsADNFCR-2164-ID-801401251-ADNFCR
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