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Labour pledges to tackle the North East’s crowded classrooms

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Ed Miliband has today set out Labour’s plan for an education with a pledge to end over-crowded infant school classes in the region.

Analysis from the Labour Party shows that the number of infants being taught in classes of over 30 pupils has risen by 147% since January 2010 with over 3000 pupils affected.

The sharpest rises have been in Sunderland with a 1413% increase.

On Teesside, Stockton on Tees has seen a 169% increase in infants in large class sizes.

The Tories have scrapped Labour’s policy to cap infant class sizes at 30 pupils. The proportion of class sizes bigger than this has trebled. That means the number of youngest children taught in such classes has risen by over 60,000 nationally.

This is in part because the Tories’ Free School programme has opened schools in areas that have a surplus of places. It has seen more than 30,000 places created in areas where they were not needed over this Parliament. On these trends if the Tories win a second term, the number of classes over 30 is on course to grow to 11,000 - a number close to the deeply damaging levels we inherited in 1997.

The next Labour government will:

  • Cap class sizes for 5,6 and 7 & year-olds so they are not bigger than 30 pupils for more than 12 months.
  • Create the required places in high need areas to deliver this cap, including in the over-subscribed schools which parents often put as their first choice by ending the Tory practice of creating new Free Schools in areas that do not need them.

Ed Miliband said: 

“Successful teaching and classroom discipline is made harder when classes are so much bigger.

“Since 2010, the number of the youngest children taught in classes bigger than 30 has gone up by almost 60,000. It is treble the number it was. And it is set to get far worse.

“Currently, the government is spending money on new Free Schools in areas where there are surplus places. This simply makes no sense when class sizes are rising in the way they are. Or when people can’t get their kids into the good schools they want.

 “So by ending the scandalous waste of money from building new schools in areas of surplus places, we will create more places where they are needed.

 “This will allow us to cap class sizes for 5, 6, and 7 year olds at no more than 30 pupils.”

 Welcoming the announcement, Louise Baldock, Labour’s candidate for Stockton South said:

 “For the last five years the Tories have taken their eye off the ball. Class sizes here in the Stockton borough have soared. I have spoken to lots of Head Teachers who are desperate for more space and staff.

 “I welcome Ed Miliband’s announcement. Children are our most precious resource and deserve the best when it comes to their education. Labour will ensure that they get it.”

The announcement on class sizes was part of Labour’s plan for an education which equips young people with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the future.

Speaking at Haverstock School in London, which he attended from 1981 to 1988, Ed Miliband commit the next Labour government to:

  • ensuring that education spending rises in real terms. This means that the Department for Education’s entire £58 billion budget will be protected.
  • Cap class sizes for 5, 6 and 7 year-olds
  • Drive up standards in every classroom, in every school, in every region
  • Ensure all children in state schools are taught by high-quality qualified teachers
  • Raise the status and quality of vocational education and skills.
  • Give our children the creativity, character and resilience they need to succeed in the 21st Century

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