Big increase in local classroom overcrowding

1000 local pupils in classes with more than 30 children

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New figures released by the Department of Education have shown a massive increase in classroom overcrowding over the last seven years. The London average for the proportion of children in classes with over 30 pupils is 8.9% but these were much higher in the local area.

In 1997 there were 894 pupils in Ealing who were being taught in overcrowded classes. This number has increased to 1148 pupils in 2004. This is a 28% increase representing 8.6% of pupils which was below the London average and considerable lower than neighbouring boroughs

Hammersmith and Fulham was worst of all with 14.2% of children being taught in overcrowded classes, up by 85% since 1997.

Hounslow's schools are the third most overcrowded in London after Hammersmith & Fulham and Kingston with 14% of pupils in classes number over 30 children. This proportion has risen by 98% since 1997 with over 2000 pupils in this situation. Hounslow is believed to have trouble recruiting teachers because it is classified as an Outer London borough meaning that staff get a lower pay enhancement than schools classified as being in inner London.

A spokesperson for Hounslow Council said, "Secondary schools across London are facing a lack of surplus spaces, and there is therefore an increased demand on places. In some cases, schools have also had to reorganise class sizes around the availability of teaching staff, resulting in fewer classes per year group and larger class sizes."

Gary Malcolm, parliamentary spokesman for Ealing, Acton & Shepherds Bush Lib Dems said: "These figures show that there has been a failure to deliver improvements for the children in our area. With class sizes on the increase, teachers find teaching more difficult. They cannot give each child the attention they deserve.”

He called on more money to be given directly to schools rather than spent on 'useless inspections.'

Unlike primary schools there is currently no legislation governing class sizes in secondary schools at the moment.

March 2, 2005