The idiot’s guide to teacher ratios

NOTE: I don’t want this to be taken as an attack on Pegasus School or modern learning environments. This is an attack on biased media, lazy reporting and mischievous blogging.

So it seems the mainstream media propped up by their fellow “journalists” at the far right blogocraty continue to attack Labour’s education policy by suggesting it’s all about class size.

I’m not going to talk about many in #TeamKey who make use of the small class sizes at private schools; many have been down that road since the weekend.

I will, however, draw your attention to a Stuff article and Farrar’s reaction to it – mainly to highlight the sheer ignorance.

Stuff talks about the new Pegasus school near Christchurch. They have ‘classes’ with 75 kids being taught by 3 teachers. The catch cry jargon for this arrangement is a modern learning environment (I’ll point out here that I am a proponent of MLEs – just concerned it’s been reduced down to a three-letter acronym [TLA]).

After cutting and pasting much of the article, Farrar says:

The future will not be one teacher with one class. It is about shared teaching and learning spaces. Teaching will be very different in the future to how we traditionally knew it. That is why the focus should be on training teachers better.

They are either missing the point through ignorance or, as I believe, wilful neglect.

Improving teacher ratios are not about ‘lower class sizes’ as the media want us to believe. It’s disingenuous to suggest this. Improving teacher ratios, for the most part, will give schools a bit more freedom with their staffing.

My school has about 80 kids. Our class sizes will pretty much stay the same. The funding we get for ‘teachers’ will probably increase.

What to spend that money on? More professional development, release days for assessment, bringing in experts to augment what we can offer… There is an endless list.

In saying that, when I’m teaching a smaller group it’s much easier to create ‘ahaa’ moments because everyone’s more engaged. That’s why I actively reduce my teacher ratio by targeting my lessons to smaller groups based on need. It’s sound practice.

Pegasus School may have 75 kids in a class but I guarantee you they do much of their teaching in small learning groups of 5 – 8 kids.

It says as much in the article.

Mr B.


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