Press Statement from Richard Wilson, Labour Parliamentary Candidate, Guildford
13 June 2014 – For immediate release
The number of infants in large classes of over 30 pupils has increased by 951 in Surrey since 2010.
In January 2010 there were 779 infant pupils in large classes and the figure is now 1,730, an increase of 122%.
Richard Wilson, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Guildford, said, “Over-crowded infant classes pose a real threat to children’s education and wellbeing. As the son of two teachers, I know the additional pressures that large class sizes place on teachers too.”
Before the General Election, David Cameron promised “small schools with smaller class sizes”.
But the new figures released on Thursday 12 June show it’s a promise they have failed to deliver.
Richard Wilson said: “Conservative Surrey County Council is failing pupils and parents. Infant class sizes are soaring and there is a shortage of school places for all ages. Local parents tell me that they cannot get places for their children in their preferred, nearby, state schools because the council has failed to provide enough places. This is a crisis for the families affected who will now face difficult school runs every day. This comes as leading councillors award themselves 60% pay hikes.
“Surrey has a critical shortage of school places while millions are being wasted elsewhere in the South East on Free Schools where there is a surplus of places. A future Labour Government will prioritise new school places in areas where there are shortages, have rigorous local oversight of schools and ensure that all teachers have or are working towards qualified teacher status.”
Government statistics from 2010 (see Table 14b) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/218954/local_20authority_20tables_20sfr092010.xls
Government statistics from 2014 (see Table 11) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/319510/SFR15_2014_LA_tables.xlsx
Number of infants in large classes (over 30)
% change 2010-14
SOUTH EAST (4)
Brighton and Hove
Isle of Wight
Windsor and Maidenhead
In their 2010 manifesto, the Conservative Party promised to create “small schools with smaller class sizes”.
A Conservative government will give many more children access to the kind of education that is currently only available to the well-off: safe classrooms, talented and specialist teachers, access to the best curriculum and exams, and smaller schools with smaller class sizes with teachers who know the children’s names.
Conservative Party Manifesto 2010, p. 51
David Cameron said in 2008 that it was “important to have small schools” so that children don’t “get lost”:
“…the more we can get class sizes down the better. It is also important to have small schools. Some schools have got so big that the children get lost in them. …What I want most in a primary school is one where the headteacher knows my child’s name and they’re not part of some enormous mass. You want your child to go somewhere where they can feel warm and safe and loved and identified.”
David Cameron, Yorkshire Post Q&A, 18 April 2008
David Cameron has created a crisis in primary school places. Two-thirds of all the places created by the Free School programme (aggregate figure for both primary and secondary) are not in the areas most in need of primary places.
NAO, Establishing Free Schools, 11 December 2013, http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/10314-001-Free-Schools-Book.pdf
Last month, it was revealed that Michael Gove had diverted £400 million away from areas in need of new primary places to fund his Free School programme.
The Guardian, 10 May 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/10/gove-lunatic-raid-free-schools
In 2012 Michael Gove relaxed the rules on class sizes and the 30 pupil limit introduced by Labour.
“Schools can breach the limit in exceptional circumstances for 12 months on the proviso that numbers are brought down the following year.
But that requirement has now disappeared from the School Admissions (Infant Class Sizes) Regulations – quietly introduced a year ago – in a move that gives heads more freedom to maintain 30-plus lessons for a number of years without having to employ more teachers.
School leaders have admitted that growing numbers of heads were preparing to take advantage of the rule change to increase class sizes.”
Telegraph, 7 April 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9969834/More-infants-to-be-taught-in-supersized-classes.html
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Promoted by Alex Wilks on behalf of Richard Wilson, both of 9b Martyr Road, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LF