Aylsham school has classes of more than 60 pupils

A Norfolk junior school is teaching children aged between seven and nine in classes of more than 60 - and the head says youngsters are benefiting.

Staff at Bure Valley School in Aylsham think they may have the biggest class sizes in the UK.

Headteacher John Starling has grouped all year three pupils into a class of 70, with two teachers and three teaching assistants, and all year four pupils into a class of 60, with two teachers and two teaching assistants.

Mr Starling, 48, who has been teaching since the early 1980s, began super-sizing classes nearly two years ago.

He said the team-teaching approach was working and said he aimed aims to extend it to other school years.

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'We've monitored the children very carefully in core subjects. At the end of the first year we found they had made double the progress they had in the previous year.'

He said staff were able to work closely with specific groups of children within classes and teachers benefited because they had colleagues in the same room.

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'Teachers are enjoying it,' he said. 'They're not on their own in a class and it's particularly good for newly-qualified teachers because they have an experienced colleague on hand.'

Nigel Daniels, whose seven-year-old daughter Samantha is in year three, said the super-size classes seemed to be working well.

'Maybe we had a little bit of concern at the start,' he said. 'But it seems to have gone very well. She (Samantha) is doing ever so well at school.

'There seems to be enough staff in the class and we like the fact that there are two teachers.

'I know normally people would feel that the smaller the class size the better, and this is turning that idea on its head, but we've been pleased.'

Inspectors from Ofsted - the Office for Standards in Education - rated the school 'good' following an inspection in October. They said some aspects of the school's work were 'outstanding'.

A report said changes to the way children in years three and four were taught had been 'instrumental' in improving the quality of education.

? What do you think? Call Steve Downes on 01263 513920, email steve.downes@archant.co.uk or join the debate by following @stevedownes on Twitter.

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