From Our Educational Correspondent List 44 issued by the Board of Education through the Stationery Office (price 3d.) a couple of weeks ago underlines the difficulty there will be in carrying out t he Government's order to evacuate schools in an emergency with the proportion of one teacher to each ten children.
In such circumstances it is difficult to See how the proportion of one teacher to ten children can he arranged, .especially as the rural areas to wki, it the children are to be transferral will &we no teachers to spare.
It is not, however, in the purely exceptional case of war that these st atist ics a re disturbing. The efficiency of our whole educational
system must be impaired by these large classes which cannot be adequately instructed and controlled by any normal teacher.
WORST OFFENDERS The statistics are " patchy " in that no constant proportion of large classes shown in every county, borough or urban district.
One carious general fact emerges, and that is that the richest and busiest areas of the country are the worst offenders against the school children by allowing more of these extra targe classes than do the less wealthy agricultural areas. Birmingham, for instance, which rightly boasts of its high industrial output. cramps its educational output by having 72 classes with over 50 children and 1,894 classes with over 40 children out of a total of 3,156 classes.
Coventry, another centre of vast
industry, has 59 classes with over 50 and 319 with over 40 out of a total of only 500 classes.
Liverpool holds the distinction of being the worst city in the kingdom with no fewer than 293 classes with over 50 and 1,389 with over 40 children out of a total of 3,248 classes.
Somerset. which Is not a wealthy county, has 1,456 classes under the control of the County Council, but of these classes not one has over 50 children, and only 73 have over 40 children, while at the other and better end of the scale it has 466 classes with fewer than 20 children in each.
Wales affords a similar contrast. County after county shows no class of over 50 and very few with over 40, but Cardiff has four with over 50 and 201 with over 40.
WALES BEATS ENGLAND For the whole of England the list shows that there are 132,735 classes. Of these, 2,076 have over 50 children; 41,298 have over 40; 50.109 have over 30; while only 39.252 have the optimum of fewer than 30 children to the class.
Wales, more enlightened in this matter, has 7,250 classes with fewer than thirty children mit of a total of 12,516 classes.
Such an inordinate number of unwieldy classes throughout England should do much to prick the bubble of pride in the educational system or its administration, and it. is difficult to determine who deserves most pity. the conscientious teacher endeavouring to do his or her duty to forty or more children or the children themselves who are expected to reap all the benefits of the system on about two per cent. of a teacher's attention.