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ESC plans to retain existing low average class size

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Monday 15 July 2019

The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture has previously provided assurances that it has no plans to change the existing average class size policy as part of the States' reforms to secondary education, and this remains the case.

All plans for the new 11-18 colleges, including the space requirements for the buildings and the staffing costs, have been calculated based on the existing policy, which states that:

"The default nominal form size in Secondary Schools is 24 children for intake capacity calculation purposes. However, in line with current practice this may be increased to up to 26 children at the discretion of the Director of Education following consultation with the relevant Headteacher."

The existing policy is used to calculate staffing allocation, but it is rare that students are in classes of exactly 24: currently, some class sizes are significantly lower and others significantly higher. This can be a result of timetabling restrictions that are common in smaller schools. This variation will decrease in the new model as it is easier to group larger cohorts into the required numbers. 

Schools decide how to group students within each subject. This often varies by year group and by cohort. Where setting is used, group sizes often vary to ensure that each student can be taught in a way that best matches their needs. 

The new model factors in smaller group sizes where they are necessary or beneficial: for example, planning for Design and Technology and Food Technology has been based on group sizes of no more than 20. It has been assumed that average class size in option subjects in Years 10 and 11 will be 20. This will ensure that the curriculum can be kept as broad as possible, with subjects with lower uptake still able to run without making class sizes in other subjects unfeasibly large.  Additional staffing has been allocated to allow duplication of some sixth form groups in order that they can run in both of the 11-18 colleges, leading to a reduction in average sixth form class sizes. 

The existing policy on pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) allocates one teacher for every 15 students in the 11-16 phase, and one teacher for every ten students in the sixth form. Averaging across the 11-18 sector, this gives one teacher for every 13.8 students: significantly lower than the average ratio across England of 1:16. Currently, schools operate with much more generous staffing than this, in part because they are less efficient due to the small size of the schools. Currently, PTRs across the four schools range from one teacher for every 11.8 students to one teacher for every 13.8: another example of the inequality in our current system.  

Although translating the existing curriculum into the new one school in two colleges model provides staffing efficiencies, the Committee is proposing to reinvest some of these savings to improve the quality of education and range of opportunities that students are offered. The proposed model gives a ratio of one teacher for every 12.8 students. Students and teachers will continue to benefit from much more generous staffing than in England, with significantly smaller average class sizes.  They will also benefit from the greater flexibility found in larger schools, which will allow additional staff time to be used more effectively than it can be in the current model.

Further detail on proposed class sizes and pupil:teacher ratios in the new model can be found at: www.gov.gg/secondaryschool

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