What is the Ideal Class Size in a Primary School?

Daniel Curry, Director & Principal, Vega Schools


A new school can be a scary place for young children. They are introduced into an environment where they likely don’t know other children or the adults. It can be overwhelming, especially if there are many students. When looking for a school for your primary aged child, what guidelines should you follow regarding class size?

Can a class be too small? Some believe a single adult tutoring a child one-on-one is ideal. This may facilitate the one-way transfer of knowledge, but eliminates a key principle of progressive education. The best schools in Gurgaon are child-centric. The children do the work, collaborate with each other, and learn from (and teach!) each other. They aren’t passive recipients of data transfer from teacher to student. This means a certain size is important for this approach to flourish. Usually, a minimum size is between 8 and 10 children to achieve educational goals. 

Once a class is established, what is the upper limit? Again, in the traditional classroom, education is for data transfer. If that is the belief, then the only limit to the number of students is based on the physical size of the classroom. 35 to 40 students can be crammed into most ‘typical’ school classrooms. They don’t need to interact with others, do group work, etc. They only need to be able to hear the teacher, see the board, and take notes quietly.

That certainly can’t be considered comfortable or enjoyable. It benefits the school greatly because they need only hire one teacher for every 35-40 students. Since teacher salaries are the single greatest expense of a school, this has a huge impact on overall school finances and therefore fees can be less.

The right class size

So then what is ideal? Looking at the top schools in Gurgaon, you’ll see a trend. Those top schools are progressive in their approach, which means smaller class sizes. They invest in nursery and kindergarten by having no more than 20 students with 2 teachers plus didis/other attendant helpers. As grades increase, class size caps will range from 25 to 30. Most schools don’t run full at their capped enrollment, which means you usually see classes having around 20 students.

Classes in this range of size can accommodate the individual needs of each student. They are reasonable enough that the teacher can know each student, including likes/dislikes and strengths/weaknesses. There is the capacity for the teacher to spend time with each student as needed to provide support.

Additionally, students have the opportunity to develop many other skills. They learn alongside and work with different personality types, different cultural backgrounds, and different ways of thinking. They learn to appreciate others’ strengths as well as their own. Collaboration and negotiation, using one’s own voice and respecting the voices of others, and appreciation of differences lead to significant character development.

Having a good class size involves more than just counting students - it relies on the overall approach. You are encouraged to consider all these factors in selecting a school for your child.

For more information on the above subject, write to us at  info@vega.edu.in.
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