News | Published December 05 2019

Labour reveals plans to cap class sizes at 30 pupils

The Labour party will put a 30-pupil limit on the size of classes at all schools in England should it win the December 12 general election.

This goes further than plans outlined in its election manifesto, which say it will limit the total number of pupils in classes within all primary schools.

Labour shadow education secretary Angela Rayner told the BBC that her party would not deliver such radical changes “overnight” if elected, but instead focus on initially “reversing the trend” of spending cuts and inflated class sizes.

She added that the extra teaching personnel would be funded by a £25 billion increase in schools spending over the next three years.

Rayner said: "The investment would go in immediately, so the money that schools have had cut they would instantly see.

“On December 13, I can't bring in 20,000 teachers. But what I can do through our National Education Service is bring in the training and skills.

"So, things will move. Will it happen immediately over night? Of course not. But immediately from day one of me being education secretary we will put it in place.”

Rayner added that Labour’s pledges were “realistic” and that her party was “promising a huge amount more” than others.

She said: "Over the last seven years, the government has missed their recruitment and retention target. Under Labour, you would get 20,000 new teachers and 25,000 unqualified teachers getting qualified.”

However, the general secretary of The National Association of Head Teachers, Paul Whiteman, has said that Labour's promises will not be enough to cater for rising numbers of pupils. 

The association forecasts that 8,000 new primary school teachers and 47,000 new secondary school teachers will be needed as early as 2024.

Whiteman said: “We need significantly more recruits than Labour are suggesting just to meet rising demand, never mind reduce current class sizes.

"The new recruits we need will not magically appear, and nor will they stay if we don't also address the stress and unnecessary workload that is widespread in the system."

Meanwhile, Conservative schools minister Nick Gibb has claimed that Labour's plans “would wreck the economy" and leave "no money for public services".

Gibb went on to cite figures from the OECD's international schools rankings, showing an improved performance from English schools, while Welsh schools run by a devolved Labour-led authority were shown to be among the worst performing in the whole of the UK.

He said: “Conservative education reforms are improving standards in our schools, meaning children can get a better start in life.”

Among their own promises, the Tories have pledged to invest £14 billion into schools in England over the next three years.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
December 05 2019

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