Schools are breaking rules on class sizes

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Scores of Lancashire schools are breaching rules over infant class sizes, it has been revealed.

Data provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request showed that nearly 30 classes across Central and West Lancashire have more than 30 pupils in them.

According to legislation schools must have no more than 30 five to seven year olds with a qualified teacher for all ordinary teaching sessions.

And, although the education authority says it “robustly” monitors and “challenges” schools, the figures show that there are 60 classes across the county with more than 30 infants in a class.

Of those, the largest number, 28, is the south area which covers Preston, Chorley, South Ribble and West Lancs.

A county council spokesman said there were more than 1,500 infant classes in the county and added that the vast majority of those affected where over by one child with “only a handful being two over”. There are none more than this.

County Councillor Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “It’s important to clarify here that classes of 30 infants are only expanded by one or occasionally two places.”

He said the figures do not represent a wholesale return to large classes.

Coun Tomlinson said: “Exceptions to the class-size rule can only be made in cases which meet the specific terms of the 2012 regulations.

“We rigorously ensure that schools comply with this, but to be fair Lancashire schools are excellent in this respect and we never need to take formal enforcement action.

He added: “There has been a rise of exceptions in the past few years, partly because the government added twins and children of UK service personnel to the list.

Coun Tomlinosn added that local the authority must also comply when appeals panels decide to allow an extra child into a school “when it would be unreasonable not to do so.”