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Education in the media: 31 July 2017

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Further education, Higher Education, Primary Schools, School sizes, Universities


Today’s news review looks at primary school sizes and one-to-one tuition time for University students.

Primary school sizes

On Sunday 30 July, a number of outlets including The Sunday Times and Sunday Mirror reported on claims made by the Labour party about an increasing number of primary schools with more than 800 pupils.

It’s important to note that the issue at stake is the size of the schools rather than the size of the classes within them. The legal limit for infant classes is 30 and the average class size in primary schools is 27.1.

In recent years the schools system has had to deal with a bulge in the population but during this time average class sizes have remained steady; in fact, the proportion of pupils in classes of 36 or more has fallen.

While the number of primary schools with 800 or more pupils has increased, larger schools do have benefits in terms of the breadth of the curriculum, infrastructure and support networks for pupils and the extracurricular opportunities they can provide.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We are making more good school places available so thousands of more families have the choice of a good local school. There are 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools than 2010 and in the same period, we have created almost 735,000 extra school places.

While small schools have benefits, so do larger ones in terms of the breadth of the curriculum, infrastructure and support networks for pupils and the extracurricular opportunities they can provide.

One-to-one tuition

On Sunday, 30 July, The Times reported that students of some subjects at British universities receive the equivalent of only 26 hours of one-to-one tuition during their three-year degree.

The findings claimed that Economics and History students received the least one-to-one tuition on average over three years. Students of some other subjects, such as Physics, receive significantly more, despite paying the same fees.

The Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, has already set out plans to provide better value for money from the higher education system for students and taxpayers.

We plan to launch a pilot plan to assess teaching in universities at a subject level in the autumn. This will be the next phase in the development of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and will support students to make better-informed decisions between courses and institutions.

In addition, the next round of institutional TEF assessments will incorporate new analysis of graduate outcomes to help students decide where to study based on the careers of previous graduates.

University’s Minister, Jo Johnson, shared his response to this story on Twitter today:

Read more about Minister Jo Johnson’s plans for subject-level TEF here.

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