In his speech to the union's conference, Mr Hart said: "What good does this do if class sizes for junior children remain a national disgrace?" Ministers have cut to 350,000 the number of infant-age children taught in classes of over 30 and say they will bring that figure to zero by 2001.
But Mr Hart said efforts to hit exam targets for 11-year-olds were being damaged by the fact that nearly a million pupils aged 7 to 11 were taught in classes of over 30. The union claimed earlier this week that half of primary schools believe that they would not hit the Government's targets for 11-year-olds' performance in maths and English by 2002. Mr Hart said class sizes compared poorly with those in independent prep schools, which have only 15 in a class on average.
"The nearly one million 7 to 11-year-olds in grossly oversized classes are not only a memorial to the inequities of the previous administration. They are a mountain this Government has to climb," he said. Class sizes in secondary schools were also "totally out of hand. Independent schools continue to operate on pupil-teacher ratios that are light years away from the maintained sector," he said.Reuse content