Secondary school class sizes continue to rise

Department for Education data indicates there is the equivalent of one extra pupil in each secondary school class compared with two years ago.

As of January 2020, the findings are:

  • The average class size in state secondary schools was 21.7 pupils, up from 21.2 last year.
    In 2017, it was 20.8 pupils. And nearly 120,000 more youngsters since 2015 are being taught in classes with 31 or more pupils.

  • Overall, there are now 84,700 more children in the nation’s schools compared with the same point last year.
    While some of this increase was in primaries, the large majority was in secondaries, which have seen numbers rise by 69,500 in a year. It is the fifth year in a row that there has been a rise in secondary school pupil numbers.

  • There are 6,500 more pupils in special schools, while there are 900 fewer pupils in independent schools compared with 2018.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said, “This increase in class sizes is a direct result of real-terms cuts in school funding. Schools have had no alternative other than to reduce the number of staff they employ at the same time as pupil numbers are rising.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We’ve created around 920,000 school places since 2010 and remain on track to create one million by 2020. “Coupled with the rising standards in our schools, this Government is ensuring every child benefits from the education they deserve.”