Heads say class sizes are disgrace

NAHT conference: Sport, music, and drama being squeezed out
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The Independent Online
JUNIOR SCHOOL class sizes were condemned as a "national disgrace" yesterday by David Hart. The general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers said it was all very well cutting class sizes in infant schools, but the policy gad to be extended to include targets for junior schools.

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.