How important are small class sizes?

Choosing which school for your child is an incredibly important decision and can seem daunting. There are many questions to ask including:

  • Will they receive an excellent education?
  • Will they be encouraged to be creative?
  • Will they learn resilience and how to get along with their peers?
  • Will they have fun?
  • Will they have opportunities to explore music and dance in extracurricular activities?
  • Will they be happy?

There are many areas to consider and compare when making the decision, one of these is the size of the classes.

Class size is defined as the number of pupils in a class with one teacher. The average class size for primary schools is 27.1 pupils. However, the 2017 Government figures revealed that there were over half a million primary school pupils in classes of 31-35 children. In addition, 39,088 primary children were in classes of 36 or more pupils, and of these, 16,571 children in classes with 40 or more pupils.

At Hatherop Castle School we keep our classes small – at an average of just 14 pupils per class. Being a small, happy prep school, we are dedicated in enabling all our children to achieve their full potential.

Here are some reasons why your child could benefit from smaller class sizes.

More attention from the teacher

The fewer pupils there are in a class, the more time and attention the teacher can give each one. A teacher will have more opportunity to get to know their pupils, observe how they work and help them improve on their weaknesses. All our teachers get to know each child personally and make a positive contribution to their development. This is not so easy in larger classes as any specific weaknesses or lack of confidence can go unnoticed for a longer period.

Quieter Classes

The more children in a class, the noisier it becomes. For some children this can be a real distraction and can lead to many disruptions of the lesson being taught. A lesson should be focused on learning and ensuring the children understand what is being taught rather than becoming distracted.

Pupil confidence

With smaller class sizes pupils feel more confident to put their hand up and ask questions. They feel more at ease contributing their own ideas and feel less intimidated if they do not understand something. This helps strengthen a teacher and pupil relationship and the pupil becomes more engaged in the learning. In larger class sizes, it is easier to ‘hide’ behind the other pupils which could lead to not being able to understand the lesson or they could become bored which can lead to disruptive behaviour.

Social benefits

Being at school is not just about how well you achieve academically. It is also about learning positive social skills. We work on building childrens’ resilience,and promoting positive attitudes in every child, so they feel able to take risks and become more confident. We also believe in respect; manners are very important and each child is taught to be respectful and courteous to each other and staff. All of this will translate positively into the workplace later in life.

Being able to teach

Behind every teacher sits a mountain of administration work. Lesson planning, marking work, sourcing educational events and numerous administration tasks. Being a teacher isn’t just about teaching. In larger class sizes, the actual teaching can become sidelined for all their other non-teaching tasks. Teachers can spend more time focused on doing the job they signed up for – being able to teach!