Class Sizes in the United Kingdom Continue to Increase

March 4, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. boom / bum / (n.) – a sudden increase in numbers
Example: There was a boom in textbook prices last year.

2. jurisdiction / ˌdʒʊər ɪsˈdɪk ʃən / (n.) – authority
Example: The English department has no jurisdiction over the teachers from the Math department.

3. equivalent / ɪˈkwɪv ə lənt / (adj.) – equal in measure
Example: The rise in school fees this year is equivalent to the rise in school fees last year.

4. longstanding / ˈlɔŋˈstæn dɪŋ / (adj.) – persisting for a long time
Example: The school has a longstanding reputation for excellence.

5. influence / ˈɪn flu əns / (n.) – power gained because of certain connections (e.g. family), social status, etc.
Example: John used his family influence to get into the school.  


Read the text below.
According to a recent analysis by the Labour Party, there are currently 520,445 students in classes with over 31 students in the United Kingdom.

This number includes 38,560 students in classes with 36 or more students and 14,824 students in classes with 40 or more students. The present number is more than 20,000 than the number in 2014, which was 500,514. The current figure was determined on the last day of submission of applications for children who will start primary school in September.

Lucy Powell, Shadow Education secretary, attributed the dramatic boom to the government's free school program. Free schools are government-run, semi-independent schools that are not under the jurisdiction of local councils. Because local councils decide whether or not schools expand, free schools essentially allowed an increase in the number of students without an equivalent increase in school size.

On the other hand, Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, justified the government's actions. Although she acknowledged a need for school places, she insisted that more than 400,000 had been created since 2010, with an additional 300,000 to be created by the end of the decade. Schools Minister Nick Gibb also pointed out that the average class currently remains at 27.4.

At the moment, some schools have resorted to teaching in gyms, music rooms, and school halls. However, a longstanding solution to the problem involves long-term planning in all sectors and having the influence to allocate resources for school places where they are needed most.

Viewpoint Discussion

·         Around how many students per classroom are there in your country? Do you think this is too few, enough, or too many?
·         Do you think class size affects a student’s performance and well-being in school? Explain your answer.

Discussion B
·         What are the negative effects of having too many students in class?
·         What are other factors that can negatively affect the performance of students in class?

March 4, 2016