'Championing the rights of children'

Class size has 'little influence' on the quality of teaching, expert says

Garry Tue 16 Jun 2015 15:27

New research suggests that teacher expertise matters far more than class size or what school a child attends.

Class size has very little impact on a child’s quality of education, because teachers tend to stick to their teaching approach regardless of the number of students, a new study has found.

The research follows concerns that the UK has some of the biggest class sizes in the developed world and that as a result, children’s education is being hampered.

However, Professor John Hattie, Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, has found new evidence that reducing class size has a “very small” effect on the quality of teaching.

To come to this conclusion, Professor Hattie considered the evidence from a total of 113 studies in developed nations – including the UK, the US and Europe – over the last 25 years.

It revealed that lowering the number of pupils in the classroom adds about four months of teaching per year, whilst focusing on getting a teacher with the best expertise adds about two years for every year of teaching.

  • Small class sizes 'top priority for 2 in 5 parents'
  • Pupil numbers at a record high, figures show

In his paper, entitled, “What Doesn’t Work in Education: The Politics of Distraction”, Professor Hattie wrote: “Reducing class sizes is an innovation that certainly appeases parents, teachers and school leaders. Parents see reducing class size as a proxy to more attention being paid to their children.

“School leaders see it as a proxy for more resources… and teachers argue it is less stressful and more effective to deal with fewer students.”
Read more... (Daily Telegraph - 16 June)