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Class sizes

How does class size affect government funding for schools?

Government funds schools by following a formula.

The largest part of the formula depends on the number of pupils on roll. This is counted once a year, every October, known as pupil census day. Government formula funding for the following financial year depends on pupils who are on roll at the school on census day.

The number of pupils on roll in October 2021 drives the pupil-led government funding for the financial year April 2022 to March 2023.

For 2021/22, the school receives £3,589 for each primary age pupil.

More pupils in a class on census day results in more funding from government.

What are the rules and law about class sizes?

Reception, year 1 and year 2 class sizes must not exceed 30 pupils in each class. It is illegal for there to be more than 30 pupils in a Reception, year 1 or year 2 class, except in exceptional circumstances.  This is known as the ‘infant class size rule’.

We cannot increase class sizes in Reception, year 1 or year 2.

Class size limits do not apply to classes in years 3, 4, 5 or 6.

Ealing Council, the local authority, sets a school’s Planned Admission Number (PAN) for Reception admissions. Local authorities use PAN to ensure that there are enough primary school places for children in their area.

Ealing Council does not formally have a role in setting other class sizes.  

Does class size matter?

Respected education research casts doubt on the impact of class size on pupils’ education.

Prof John Hattie has developed a way of synthesizing various influences in different meta-analyses according to their effect size (Cohen’s d). In his ground-breaking study “Visible Learning” he ranked 138 influences that are related to learning outcomes from very positive effects to very negative effects.

Hattie found that the average effect size of all the interventions he studied was 0.40.

Therefore, he decided to judge the success of influences relative to this ‘hinge point’, in order to find an answer to the question “What works best in education?”

Reducing class size is ranked at position 186 out of 252 with an effect size of 0.21, well below Hattie’s ‘hinge point’.

Our teaching focuses on the top 30 influences, each with an effect size of 0.7 or above and sometimes double Hattie’s ‘hinge point’.

How big are primary class sizes in England?

Class sizes for years 3, 4, 5 & 6 in England vary.

Average class sizes at key-stage 2 (years 3, 4, 5 & 6)

How big are primary class sizes in Ealing?

A few schools in Ealing have class sizes of over 30 pupils at key-stage 2 (years 3, 4, 5 & 6).

Ealing Primary school class sizes at key-stage 2 (January 2021)

Why 32 pupils in each class?

We have listened to the views of class teachers. They understand and support the decision to increase class sizes so that we can keep our excellent offer to pupils. They say they can manage 32 pupils but not any more.

We have thought about the size of all of our classrooms in years 3, 4, 5 & 6. There is enough space, tables and chairs for 32 pupils in each class.

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