Nearly three-quarters of all infants are being taught in classes of over 25 pupils, despite an election pledge by Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams.
The data comes from a Written Assembly Question by the Welsh Conservatives, who claim there is “very little evidence” that reducing class sizes will deliver meaningful improvements to educational outcomes.
Shadow Education Secretary – Darren Millar AM – has called for a rethink on the policy suggesting that the money would be better spent on reducing class sizes of over 30 instead.
According to the Welsh Government there were almost 80,000 pupils in infant classes of more than 25 in January of 2016, and over 8,000 in classes of over 30, an increase of 18% since 2013.
£36 million has been pledged over four years by the Welsh Government to deliver on infant class sizes pledge, but a 2012 report by the think tank the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found “the size of the class is unrelated to the school system’s overall performance” and education experts have suggested that the money should be spent on delivering improvements elsewhere.
Mr Millar said:
“The Cabinet Secretary has a mountain to climb if she is ever going to deliver on her class sizes pledge.
“But then the Welsh Government’s broken promise on tuition fees should give us very little confidence that they still intend to honour this commitment.
“12 months on and we are still none the wiser as to how the Education Secretary plans to recruit the extra teachers and build the new classrooms to make this pledge a reality, but with three out of every four pupils in classes of more than 25 it’s abundantly clear that the cash which has been earmarked for this pet project is nowhere near sufficient.
“Instead of wasting tens of millions on a vanity project this cash would be better spent on increasing school budgets across the board so that head teachers can invest in their schools and retain staff that are currently at risk of being laid off due to budget cuts.”
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