Friday, 21 March 2008

Class sizes to keep increasing...teaching by proxy?

Just watched a depressing news article about a prediction of class sizes increasing from 20 to 30 pupils up to a super-size of 70 to 90 with one teacher in charge of a group of assistants attending to the class. Teaching assistants do a fantastic job and if you have a child with complex behavioural difficulties or special learning needs, they are an absolute necessity within the classroom but I'm not sure many teachers chose their profession so they can be supervisors. I am worried that this hierachical approach to class organisation would lead to a greater alienation of children within the education system, easily slipping into anonimity within such huge classes and becoming little more than a set of numbers and test results with little access to the main education provider in the classroom setting. Unless the ta's have a full teaching certificate how would parents ever have confidence in the system? Not to mention the problem these super-sized establishments would bring with everything from transport gridlock in getting pupils to school to epidemic and infection control nightmares.(Think back to the college campuses dealing with meningitis outbreaks.)
We have seen the results of massive hierachical structuring in public services such as the NHS - not been a huge success has it? I think eduation will become even more polarised in this country as those with money will pay for individual private tution or home-education rather than risk the sausage-machine approach of one class-fits-all. Education shouldn't be about profit margins and league tables. It is about building the foundations of our future society and about giving the next generation the best chance of being productive and happy members of society. A child lost in a huge, fragmented class with little sense of place or self image within a giant regimented system that only rewards uniformity and league-table positions is more likely to be a dissaffected and under-achieving adult in both the workplace and relationships with little regard for a society that sees no individual worth in them.