Duncan was excited to go back to school. His brothers were a little jealous. On day one by lunchtime Kevin was calling for Duncan to come home. He was needed for the best games apparently.
There had been calls for sometime for a return to school but Mum and Dad were rightly anxious about whether Duncan would be safe.
The school put a vast amount of work into preparing the classrooms and playground. The plan was explained to all parents in Reception, Year 1 & 6 by email. My daughter and husband assessed the plan and decided in its favour. Leaving me unable to see not just Duncan but the whole family for another 8 weeks, to the end of term and a safe gap after that, was it going to be worth it?
Class sizes reduced
Duncan will be in a class of just 8 children. He will be taught by 3 teachers and supported by two classroom assistants.
That ratio of child to teacher is a real plus. One teacher to a maximum of 3 children! There is no doubt he will have improved learning outcomes. Any gap in his learning will be more than filled by the end of term. I may suffer but his learning will not.
What the evidence says
The UK has the third highest class sizes in the developed world, at 27. The average for developed countries is 21 pupils per class. https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=EDU_CLASS . So 8 has to be a huge #coronavirusbonus
The UK Government’s own evidence review says, ‘ the link between class size and attainment, taken as a whole, finds that a smaller class size has a positive impact on attainment and behaviour in the early years of school, but this effect tends to be small and diminishes after a few years’ https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/183364/DFE-RR169.pdf
The same review adds ‘increasing teacher effectiveness has greater value for money than reducing class sizes’. Thank goodness our boys school still requires qualified teachers unlike many academies and free schools.
Gains and losses
There are a few small cost implications as the school returns:
- Washing the school uniform more frequently.
- Providing a water bottle
The school is as flexible as it can be:
- Allowing any clothing in school colours as children may have outgrown uniforms
- Allowing any colour PE kit, and
- Providing all educational equipment
The loss will be
- No exchange of materials between home and school e.g. books.
- His dietary damage with the limited food offer of baguettes, rolls, wraps, sandwiches. No sign of a weight management or diabetes-risk free menu. Sugar comes back to play a central role with crackers, cake and ice cream. Highly processed BabyBel che
- ese and fruit do little to compensate.
On balance the intellectual gains have the potential to be sensational while health losses could start stacking up. A reinforcement of fructose (straight to the liver) and glucose (stores as fat) as a high percentage of the diet, is a worry. Is it time to prepare a healthy packed lunch?
- If you have the time, prepare healthy packed lunches ( not including Ella and other pre-cooked snacks).
- Ensure that at home the fest of sugar is compensated for by a no sugar meal.
- Be appreciative of the teachers who are coming into teach
- Be glad of the tiny class and high level of learning on offer.