The New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association / Te Wehengarua (PPTA) believe class size does matter in ensuring our country’s young people have access to the best quality education possible.
Secondary teachers want the average class size to be no more than 26 students. They believe that the maximum for a class should be 30 students except for classes where there are hazardous processes, equipment and/or materials - then the class size should be no more than 24 students.
Individualising learning requires a teacher to know their students and to be able to spend quality time with each student they have.
Most parents want each subject teacher to spend at least 15 minutes one-on-one time per week with their child (Windshift, 2007).
Currently, a student in an average sized class can expect up to 4 minutes (PPTA, 2007).
Smaller classes are good for students, schools and teachers
We are in the era of NCEA and differentiated learning, an educational approach that requires smaller groups to function well. The fewer students a teacher has to deal with at once, the more likely he or she is to reach all of those students.
Small classes are good for students:
- More opportunity to cater for diversity and difference
- Greater engagement in learning
- Better monitoring of student progress
- Earlier diagnosis of student difficulty
- More inclusive and more personal teaching
- A reduction in bullying
- Higher levels of physical safety
- More immediate rewards for achievement
- Students are more likely to be ‘on-task’
- Test results improve
- Group work is more easily managed
- More opportunity for student interactions
- Improved attendance figures
- Students are more positive about themselves
- It is easier to maintain a good physical learning environment
- Students in smaller high school classes are more likely to graduate from school
- Smaller high school classes have a significant positive effect on wages later in life (Dustmann, C., Rajah, N., van Soest, A., 2002).
"Teachers in small classes pay greater attention to each pupil. Students in these classes experience continuing pressure to participate in learning activities and become better, more involved students. Attention to learning goes up, and disruptive and off task behaviour goes down" (Resnick, L., Zurowsky, C., 2003).
Small classes are good for schools:
- Increased capacity to offer curriculum options
- Students more positive about school
- Lower rates of school vandalism
- More effective use of limited classroom resources
- Parents more likely to be involved
- Easier to maintain a good physical learning environment
- Noise levels are lower
Small classes are good for teachers:
- More engaged in professional development
- More engaged in school reforms
- Less stressed
- Absenteeism & illness reduced
- More accountable
- Morale is better
- Retention is improved
- Group work more easily managed