Miliband vow on primary class sizes

Published: Thursday 12th February 2015 by The News Editor

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A Labour government will act to limit primary school classes in England to no more than 30 pupils if the party gains power at the general election in May, Ed Miliband is pledging.

The Labour leader will say the party would create thousands of new school places – including in popular, over-subscribed schools – enabling it to cap class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds.

He will use a speech at his old secondary school in north London to say that a Labour government would fund the scheme by ending the building of new free schools – introduced by the Coalition – in areas where there is a surplus of places.

His intervention comes as Nick Clegg is promising to put education at the centre of the Liberal Democrats’ general election campaign – suggesting that it could emerge as one of the key election battlegrounds.

The previous Labour government originally introduced legislation in the 1990s limiting primary school class sizes to a maximum of 30, although the rules have since been relaxed under the coalition.

Labour says that there are now around than 90,000 five- to seven year-olds being taught in classes of more than 30.

Speaking at Haverstock School in Camden, Mr Miliband will say that unless action is taken the problem will get much worse.

“Successful teaching and classroom discipline is made harder when classes are so much bigger,” he is expected to say.

“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 five, six, and seven-year-olds at no more than 30 pupils.”

A Conservative spokesman said: ” Ed Miliband’s policy has collapsed within minutes – primary school sizes are already capped at 30.

“Are Labour saying they will scrap sensible exceptions like those that ensure armed forces children get a place at primary school, or ensure that twins aren’t forced apart?

“This incompetence and chaos shows exactly why Ed Miliband is simply not up to the job.”

Published: Thursday 12th February 2015 by The News Editor

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