Council React to Claim That Chiswick Classroom Sizes Could Rise to 40

Report suggests William Hogarth primary school considering drastic measures


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Hounslow Council have dismissed reports that class sizes in Chiswick primary schools could be increased to as much as 40 pupils.

They issued a denial after Avril Stockley, headteacher of the William Hogarth School was quoted as saying that she would consider such an increase due to budget and staffing issues in the Chiswick Calendar newsletter. Other Chiswick primaries are understood to be struggling to deal with similar related problems.

Picture: William Hogarth School

Ms Stockley is reported as saying that the school has survived so far on money carried forward from previous financial years and staff leaving and not being replaced. This has allowed them to avoid redundancies up to now but going forward they have to look at ways to reduce spending. She said that currently the school has below average class sizes and a full roster of teachers but that "it's important to have a clear organisational strategic plan rather than react" to staff turnover. In her view this meant classes over 30 and up to 40 would need to be considered.

Ms Stockley, is quoted saying that you have to consider whether would be better to pay one "fantastic teacher" a little bit more to teach a class of 40 or whether you pay less for two teachers who need more support to teach the year group together. She added that the budget crisis "ties in with the teacher recruitment crisis."

Other teachers in Chiswick primary schools were also asked their view on the matter but refused to be drawn. Vanessa Townsend, head of Strand on the Green Infants is quoted as saying, "this is a sensitive area. I'm not prepared to put anything out in public at the moment".

When asked about the possibility of class sizes of up to 40 in local schools Councillor Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education, Children’s Services and Youth Services, Hounslow Council said, "Belmont and William Hogarth Primary schools are two form entry schools (60 places per year group), therefore each class is planned for 30 pupils. The School Admissions Infant Class size legislation prevents infant classes having more than 30 pupils with a single teacher.

"We can confirm that there are no year groups that do not comply with the Admissions legislation and have been given no indication by either school that they are planning on altering class sizes or admissions numbers.

"In any case, any changes to the organisation of a maintained school would be the subject of a statutory consultation by the local authority.”

Chiswick schools are thought to face a particularly acute problem at the moment because teachers only qualify for an Outer London pay boost despite living costs being much higher in the area. Moving to a school in a borough like Ealing, where the higher Inner London premium is paid, means a teacher can get an immediate increase in pay. This has made it very difficult for the schools in Chiswick in Hounslow borough to recruit and retain teachers.

Drastic measures to meet budget requirements are being considered by other schools. Recently St. Mary's School in Isleworth announced that they were going to hold a consultation about a plan to close the school early on Fridays.

We have asked Avril Stockley for a comment on the issue.

February 18, 2018

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