Teacher shortages and classroom overcrowding

It’s no secret that overcrowding in today’s classrooms is a doomed reality, with teachers’ resources and capacities being stretched to new levels and students increasingly suffering the consequences. Overpopulated classes can have detrimental effects on even the brightest of students, causing gradual alienation from the subject being taught and leading to deterioration in concentration levels. Overcrowding can ignite the potential for chaos. Teacher morale can easily be swung by this and students can become disconnected and mentally absent if they feel they are being ignored for prolonged periods.

Classrooms really are bursting!

According to recent research, British classrooms really are bursting at the seams. Shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg, has expressed concern over the fact that we have one teacher per 17.6 students and, when added to the 500 teacher vacancies, the long term prospects in state education are dismal. Teachers have also reported real woes. Many have said that the ‘essence’ of ‘personal teaching’ is being lost, undermining the uniqueness of each and every student’s individual needs. We cannot forget that every pupil is a distinct and separate child with its respective needs. Teachers are not surprisingly overwhelmed and sapped from having to stretch themselves to engage all and also from at times having to play the role of social worker. In many deprived state schools, which are more commonly hit by such cases, teachers must juggle an array of issues on a daily basis.

Every child has the right to the attention and support

A study carried out in 2009 by the University of London emphasises the damaging effects over straining teachers can have. This study summaries that teachers “feel there is a moral imperative operating at the heart of their work: Every child has the right to the attention and support which they need. This is difficult to attain under all circumstances and creates tension for the teacher.” With better staffing, much of this would be comfortably alleviated.
Stephen Twigg elaborates on the pressing matter: “Pupils deserve far better. Unless this crisis is addressed head on, pupils will be in bigger class sizes or face being taught by people without teaching qualifications. This is a real and growing threat to school standards.” He goes on to explain: “All the international evidence shows that the quality of teaching makes the biggest difference to results. We cannot let the next generation down by cutting teacher quality.”
It is abundantly clear from the evidence that larger class sizes disrupt focus and drive, both in teachers and in students, leading to worsening academic performance and a general decline in motivation. Therefore, it is essential for students to be in a well-contained environment where they are able to learn productively and receive the individual attention they require.
Have you experienced problems with classroom overcrowding? Or are you perhaps a teacher with experience on the subject?

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