Too many Mansfield kids "stuck in overcrowded classrooms", says Mayor

Too many children in Mansfield are “stuck in overcrowded classrooms”, says the town’s Mayor, Coun Andy Abrahams.

By Richard Silverwood
Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 3:45 pm
Coun Andy Abrahams, the Mayor of Mansfield,. who says schoolchildren need more help to recover from missed education during the pandemic.
Coun Andy Abrahams, the Mayor of Mansfield,. who says schoolchildren need more help to recover from missed education during the pandemic.

The Mayor, who is himself a former teacher, hit out after new analysis revealed there are now 17,491 pupils in class sizes of more than 30 across Nottinghamshire.

This is an increase of 35 per cent since 2010, almost 15 per cent higher than the increase for England as a whole. And critics feel it is harming youngsters’ education as they try to recover from the pandemic.

Coun Abrahams, who is also leader of the Labour group on Mansfield District Council, said: “Children in Mansfield need all the help they can get to catch up after two dreadful years, ravaged by Covid.

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Sir Kevan Collins, the government's education recovery commissioner, who resigned in June.

"The last thing they need is to be stuck in overcrowded classrooms. Yet, under this Conservative government, that’s increasingly the case.

"This government hasn’t got a serious plan to get children back on track.

"Labour’s recovery plan would give children in the Mansfield district the help they need. It would offer tutoring in small groups, mental-health support for every child and breakfast clubs, as well as targeted support for those who need it most.”

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The analysis, published by the Labour Party, uses data from the Department for Education. It shows that, in England, 900,672 school pupils are now in classes of more than 30, which is an increase of 153,141 since 2010.

It also finds that disadvantaged youngsters in big class-sizes are less likely to go on to higher education. Similarly, areas with lower social mobility, such as Mansfield, have seen the biggest class-size increases over the last ten years.

Labour MP Wes Streeting, who is shadow child poverty secretary, said: “Parents do not want to see their children crammed into super-sized classes, and the evidence shows that kids from the poorest backgrounds are hit hardest.”

Labour announced its Children’s Recovery Plan in the wake of the resignation of the government’s education catch-up commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins.

Sir Kevan had asked for a £15 billion support package to help children and schools recover from missed learning time during the pandemic. But the government reportedly came up with just £1.4 billion, which he described as “a half-hearted approach that risks failing hundreds of thousands of pupils”.

He had also wanted to extend the school day, but this was rejected. He added: “The package falls far short of what is needed. The average primary school will directly receive just £6,000 per year, which is the equivalent of £22 per child. Not enough is being done to help vulnerable pupils.

"I do not believe it is credible that a successful recovery can be achieved with a programme of support of this size.”

In response, a spokeswoman for the government said: “We will continue to focus on education recovery and make sure no child is left behind with their learning.

"More than £3 billion has been committed to the catch-up programme so far, and there will be more coming through to support children who have missed lessons during the pandemic.”

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