|Institute of Education
Class Size Research project
Welcome to the webpages for the Class size research project, run by the Department of Psychology and Human Development at the Institute of Education, University of London, UK. The aim of these pages is to give an introduction to the project, detail some of the major findings and provide information on publications arising from the project.
The webpages describe results from a pioneering, independent research project of international significance, unique in its scale and methodology, and conducted by a large team at the Institute of Education, University of London.
The project aimed to study comprehensively for the first time in the UK the effect of class size and pupil/adult ratios upon pupils' academic attainment and on classroom processes such as teaching, pupil attention and classroom behaviour. The first section of the study examined the influence of class size from school entry in the reception year (4/5 years) through Key Stage 1 (5-7 years). The second stage of the study extended the project to an examination of Key Stage 2 (7-11 years). Both stages of the project are now complete.
The study offers an integrated account linking class size, classroom processes and academic attainment, and seeks to solve a long standing puzzle - why the view of professionals and parents that small classes provide a better quality of teaching and learning has not always been supported by research findings.
It identifies important implications for policy and practice, in terms of maximising opportunities of small classes and ways of minimising problems in large classes
In a later study – the Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) project - we were able to examine the effects of class size on teacher pupil interaction and pupil classroom engagement across both primary and secondary sectors.
1. The most comprehensive description of the research, its background and a disussion of
results is in the book:
2. Main findings from the KS1 stage of the project (pupils aged 5-7 years can be found in: Blatchford, P., Bassett, P., Goldstein, H., and Martin. C. (2003) Are class size differences related to pupils’ educational progress and classroom processes? Findings from the Institute of Education Class Size Study of children aged 5-7 Years. British Educational Research Journal , 29, 5, 709-730. Special Issue ‘In Praise of Educational Research’, Guest Editors: S. Gorrard, C. Taylor and K. Roberts
3. Findings on the effect of class size and classroom processes when pupils aged 10/11 years: Blatchford, P., Bassett, P., and Brown, P. (2005) Teachers’ and pupils’ behaviour in large and small classes: a systematic observation study of pupils aged 10/11 years. Journal of Educational Psychology , 97,3, 454-467
4. Findings on the effects of class size on teaching can be found in: Blatchford, P., Russell, A., Bassett, P., Brown, P., and Martin, C. (2007) The effect of class size on the teaching of pupils aged 7-11 years. School Effectiveness and Improvement , 18, 2, June, 147-172
5. Some other recent findings will be be published in "Psychology of Classroom Learning: An Encyclopedia". These can be viewed by clicking here.
6. At the March 2008 American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting in New York Peter Blatchford presented new results on the connection between class size and student engagement and teacher pupil interactions. This was widely cited around the world. The paper by Peter Blatchford, Paul Bassett and Penelope Brown was titled: ‘Do low attaining and younger students benefit most from small classes? Results from a systematic observation study of class size effects on pupil classroom engagement and teacher pupil interaction’
Here is the Abstract:
Results showed that as class sizes became smaller there were more times when pupils were the focus of a teacher’s attention, and more times when they were engaged in active interaction with teachers. This effect was found for all groups at both primary and secondary levels. It was also found that pupils’ classroom engagement decreased in larger classes and this problem was particularly marked for the pupils who are already attaining at lower levels. This, in turn, was accompanied by teachers seeking to control low attainers more than other groups in larger classes. It is suggested that small classes can be a valuable educational initiative right through school, but could be particularly targeted at lower attaining pupils at secondary level.
You can access the full paper by clicking here.