Lib Dems plan to cut class size

By staff

The Liberal Democrats have announced new plans to reduce the maximum class size of infant schools.

They will help English infant schools reduce their class capacity to a maximum 15, half the current limit.

The proposals will be funded by ending the Child Trust Fund, which gives every child £250 when they reach the age of 18, and redistributing other public spending.

The proposed plans would mean the government would need to find 38,000 new teachers, only 30,000 qualify each year.

Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader, said cutting class sizes in early years would cost about £500m – the amount currently allocated to the Child Trust Fund.

“There is no point giving someone £250 at the age of 18 if you haven’t done what we need to give young children … the start they need in school,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“At a time when we are pouring hundreds of billions of pounds into the pockets of bankers, to find half a billion pounds to give all our children the start they need in life seems to me to be a sensible call.”

In addition to cutting class sizes, he also wants to pay more for schools that deal with children from poor and difficult backgrounds.

This will allow them to gain the same advantages as fee-paying schools and would allow teachers to give one-to-one tuition.

He told the BBC: “All the evidence shows that if you are a bright but poor child you will be overtaken in school by the age of six or seven by a less bright but wealthier child and after that age the gap opens up ever wider. That is wrong. That has to change.”

The proposals will also allow schools to give extra classes on a Saturday.