Jon Hubbard

Liberal Democrat Wiltshire Councillor for Melksham South and Town Councillor for Melksham Spa Learn more

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Cut Class Sizes to give Children the Attention They Need

by Jon Hubbard on 1 February, 2010

Nick Clegg in classroom with kidsThe Pupil Premium policy is one of the most innovative parts of our Lib Dem education policy. I am proud to have voted for it at our Spring Conference in Harrogate last year. As a teacher myself, and as the Lib Dems spokesperson on schools on Wiltshire Council, I cannot overemphasise the importance of smaller class sizes in helping to boost individual pupil performance.

Our party plans to spend an extra £2.5 billion on schools to achieve our goal of smaller class sizes. The money will be targetted at schools taking on children who need more help, but will benefit every child in every school. The cash can be used to cut class sizes and provide one-to-one tuition or catch-up classes, ensuring every child gets the individual attention they need. An average primary school could cut class sizes to 20. An average secondary school could see classes of just 16.

Take an average primary school of just over 200 pupils. With an average number of children eligible for free school meals, this school could see an extra £90 000 in its budget. That would be enough to cut class sizes from 27 to 20. Just imagine what a difference that would make – ensuring that every child gets the individual attention they need to thrive.

Take an average secondary school with a roll of 1,000 pupils. It could expect around £400,000 more every year than it gets now, which would have an enormous impact. They could recruit a dozen extra teachers and cut classes to 16. Or they could pay for catch-up classes for 160 pupils, making sure no-one who struggles gets left behind.

This policy costs £2.5 billion, and will be introduced in the second year of the Parliament after our jobs stimulus package, paid for from savings in government such as our proposed reforms to tax credits (which will save £1.5 billion) and administrative savings in the Department for Education and quangos (which save an additional £1 billion).

Unlike the Tories who promise everyone an “elitist” education with qualified teachers without the detailed financial plans to pay for it, the Lib Dems have the proposed savings highlighted to pay for smaller class sizes.

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