Primary school class sizes overflowing, but help is on the way

by Robert Ballantyne04 Aug 2015

At Queensland’s metropolitan state schools, class sizes for Prep to Year 3 students are 15% over the target of 25 students.

In an effort to help schools cope with the burgeoning class sizes, the Queensland Government is investing $152m to employ an extra 875 teaching positions, bringing the total number of new teachers to 2,500 over the next three years.

Kevin Bates, Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) president, told The Courier Mail that overflowing classes were reducing teachers’ ability to attend to students’ needs.

“One of the things that is a reality of modern classrooms is the diversity of students, and when you add extra students in you are compounding those diversity issues,” Bates said.

“Each and every child that you add essentially divides the teacher’s ability.”

Michael Fay, Queensland Association of State School Principals (QASSP) president, said principals were doing a good job of managing classroom sizes under the circumstances but hoped there would be an improvement after the announcement of more teachers.

From 2012, the number of classes over the target ­size increased from 8% to 13% in Prep to Year 3, while Year 4-7 classes increased from 5% to 9%.

John Ryan, Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) director, told the state education committee 4,406 teachers had been registered in 2006. However, that number had dropped to 2,824 in 2013.

“Last year, that number increased by 500-600 but this year the prediction is we will dip under 3,000 for Queensland graduates,” Ryan said.

“Queensland is actually running against the wind compared to other Australian jurisdictions. Mostly, if you look at other states, it (the number of teacher graduates) is increasing.”

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