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Smaller classes 'not necessarily more efficient'

05/09/2014 Kelly
Increasing class sizes could help to improve the efficiency of education without undermining standards, a new report claims.

GEMS Education Solutions has produced a new index ranking the return on investment obtained by the education departments of 30 different nations.

It places the UK at number 11 in the table, which is topped by Finland, followed by South Korea, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Japan. This makes the UK as a whole one of the most efficient countries in Western Europe, the BBC reports.

According to the study, factors such as smaller class sizes or teachers' pay are not necessarily linked to better results.

Andreas Schleicher, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD's) education director, said it "breaks the silence" on the relationship between increased spending and results.

"While spending per student in the industrialised world increased by more than 30 per cent over the last decade, learning outcomes in most countries have remained flat," he added.

The new study used information from the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment rankings to compile its table.

Although countries like South Korea have large class sizes, this does not prevent them from getting good results.

A range of cultural factors comes into play when determining outcomes. In Finland, the teaching profession has a very high social status, and this could contribute to the country's strong performance.

Former education minister Lord Adonis said: "There is no easy recipe for a 'good efficient' system. But a highly professional teaching force, which is well but not excessively paid, and with pupil/teacher ratios not excessively small, is a good starting point."

Chris Kirk, chief executive of GEMS Education Solutions, said the study shows poorer countries that better education outcomes are possible even with limited amounts of investment.

The report was written by Peter Dolton, economics professor at Sussex University, Oscar Marcenaro Gutierrez, associate professor at the University of Malaga, and Adam Still, from GEMS Education Solutions, which commissioned the research.

Posted by Tim ColmanADNFCR-2164-ID-801746846-ADNFCR
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