Fury over high school maths class with 46 pupils

Brighouse High headteacher Liz Cresswell defended the larger class sizes.

Brighouse High headteacher Liz Cresswell defended the larger class sizes.

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A Brighouse High School pupil returned to class this term to find he would be taught maths in a ‘lecture theatre’ alongside 45 other children.

Mother Chloe Ennis said she was concerned that the new larger class system introduced for maths at Brighouse High School in Calderdale would “damage the teaching” that her son Silus, 13, received.

She said parents had not been informed about the changes and feared it would reduce one-to-one teaching time as well as increasing the risk of disruptions in class.

She said: “My concern was just ‘how is this allowed?’. Is it because of a lack of teachers? Is it an experiment?

“I know someone has to be a martyr when changes are being made but I don’t want this experiment to be to the detriment of my child.

“And wouldn’t it be so much easier to mess about with phones and get distracted if you are at the back of a class that big? I know it’s the top set but they are still teenagers.”

Brighouse High headteacher Liz Cresswell said the bigger classes were introduced following changes made to maths exams at a national level and to allow more pupils access to the top set in their year groups.

The school’s new lecture theatre-style classrooms can accommodate up to 56 pupils but Mrs Cresswell said she would only consider a maximum of 45 to be acceptable.

She said the number of maths teachers had not decreased before this term began and the changes were not introduced as a result of staff shortages.

“Previously the number of pupils who could be taught in a top set was limited by the number of desks and chairs in a classroom, usually no more than 34,” she said.

“The strategy was influenced by research carried out by the school last year and a visit by myself to one of the Harris Academies in London where targeted teaching was seen as a key to raising achievement.

“The new setting system will be monitored closely to ensure that it has the desired impact on progress both of the high attainers and the less able students who we expect to benefit from being in the smaller lower sets.”

She said there were no plans to introduce the system for any other subject.

Calderdale NUT division secretary James Wilson said: “Unfortunately the current and previous Government’s savage real terms cuts to education funding means that schools are forced to make unpalatable decisions about students’ education of in order to try to balance their budgets. Increasing class sizes, which is happening across Calderdale is one example of this, along with an alarming number of staff redundancies in local schools.

“Large classes have a negative impact on learning, behaviour, teacher workload and also the safety of students.

“The NUT would regard any class of over 30 students as being unacceptable, aiming to establish a maximum class size of 26, with classes such as practical groups or early years having lower maximums.

“Calderdale NUT urges parents who are angry about the class sizes in their school to write to their MP, calling for pressure to be put upon the Government to end their assault on our children’s future.

“Parents are voters as well, and should remember these issues when it comes to the ballot box.”