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Scores of Norfolk children taught in 'unlawful' large classes

The National Education Union (NEU) says reducing class sizes is a major priority for teachers in the 2019 general election as government figures reveal increases in primary and secondary school class sizes in Norfolk since 2010. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

The National Education Union (NEU) says reducing class sizes is a major priority for teachers in the 2019 general election as government figures reveal increases in primary and secondary school class sizes in Norfolk since 2010. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

More than 100 children in Norfolk are being taught in unlawfully large classes, figures have revealed.

Department for Education data shows four primary school classes in the county - one each in Broadland, Great Yarmouth and Norwich South and two in North Norfolk - in 2018/19 were considered to be of an "unlawful" size.

Under government rules, a class size for children aged five-seven is unlawful if there are more than 30 children. There are no legal limits for other age groups.

Figures from across the county, analysed by the National Education Union (NEU), show 6,332 of the county's 61,142 primary school pupils in 2018/19 were being taught in classes with 31 to 35 pupils while 554 were taught in classes of at least 36.

This is up from the equivalent figures in 2010/11, when 6,264 out of 52,148 pupils were in classes with 31 to 35 pupils and 182 were in classes of more than 35.

In secondary schools in 2018/19, 3,554 pupils out of a total of 40,688 were taught in classes of 31 to 35 and 302 were in classes bigger than 35.

This shows a significant increase from 2010/11 when only 36 pupils were in a class of more than 35 - part of the total of 3,513 pupils who were in classes of more than 31.

The stats showed Great Yarmouth had one of the largest average secondary school class sizes in the country in 2018/19 at 24 pupils.

The NEU claims reducing class sizes should be high up the agenda for the next government. A poll of teachers by the organisation revealed it was the top priority for more than a third of them (34pc).

It said the percentage of secondary pupils in classes of 31 or more was at its highest level (13pc) since 1981 while the average class size in primary schools was at its highest level since 2000.

Dr Mary Bousted, NEU joint general secretary, said: "Parents are no fools. They can see with their own eyes the impact of funding pressures on their children's education, and the reduction in individual contact time that their child has with their teachers."

Back in September prime minister Boris Johnson promised an extra £14m for schools up to 2022/23 to ease funding pressures.

All the major parties have pledged to pump more money into public services, including education, should they get elected on December 12.

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