A progress report released today (Monday, January 13) has shown how a £36m Welsh Government grant to reduce infant class sizes is ‘making a real difference’ to schools across Wales.
The report reveals how the Welsh Government has made progress in reducing infant class sizes in the targeted schools since the grant was launched in April 2017.
Reducing infant class sizes was a key part of the Progressive Agreement reached between Kirsty Williams and the First Minister. In line with international evidence, the policy targets schools that would most benefit from smaller classes, such as those with high levels of deprivation, additional learning needs, and/or where teaching and learning needs to improve.
Some key findings of the report are as follows:
- The grant is funding 110 additional teachers, 42 additional learning assistants and 52 additional classrooms and improved facilities in 115 schools across Wales;
- the percentage of all infant classes and learners in classes over 30 has reduced since the introduction of the grant, with a reduction in class sizes across all targeted schools;
- the number of schools which were in the red or amber category of the school categorisation system has decreased during the grant period.
Since its introduction 388 infant classes have benefited from the policy, resulting in there being 770 more learners in classes below 20,and 2,592 fewer learners in classes of 29 learners or more.
To coincide with the publication of the report Education Minister Kirsty Williams visited Penyrheol Primary in Swansea - a school that has benefitted from two additional teachers, two new learning assistants and £162,812 of capital funding for additional classrooms through the project.
The school now has an average infant class size of 23.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said:
I want teachers to have the time to teach and children to have the space to learn and this is why I am committed to delivering smaller class sizes in our schools.
Reducing class sizes is a key strand of our national mission to raise standards and extend opportunities for all our young people so that every young person has an equal opportunity to reach the highest standards and achieve their full potential.
Reducing teacher workload is a key priority for the Welsh Government - smaller class sizes lessen the workload while improving both the quality and quantity of time teachers spend with pupils. I am delighted with the progress shown in today’s report.
Penyrheol Primary School Headteacher Alison Williams added:
The additional funding that has been made available by the Education Minister has made a tremendous difference to the children at Penyrheol Primary School.
It has supported the deployment of additional staff within lovely refurbished accommodation which has made a real difference.