THE saying all good things come in small packages is certainly true of one school.
Last year, King Richard School in Paulsgrove made a commitment to all year seven pupils that English and maths lessons would be limited to class sizes of just 15.
The same applied to English students in their final year of GCSEs who would normally expect to sit in a class of up to 26.
Since then exam results have soared from 35 to 43 per cent of all pupils achieving five of more A* to C GCSEs, including English and maths.
Headteacher Adam Dare said: ‘I am in no doubt that our class size guarantee has contributed to an 18 per cent rise in A* to C English GCSE pass rates to 59 per cent this year – and it’s here to stay.
‘For a school our size it would be normal to have six of each, but today we have 11 maths and 11 English teachers who are doing a fantastic job.
‘The core of good progress is good teaching but it’s hard to provide good teaching in a big class, because children need individual support and they need to have their voices heard in the classroom.
‘If all you’re expecting from students is a C grade, then you can afford to have 30-odd class sizes. But if you want them to achieve to their full potential and aiming for the As and A*s, less is more.’
The school funded the extra staff by saving money from a range of government funds for specialist status, deprivation and free school meals among others.
While schools are often criticised for focusing on lifting the D students to a C to improve league table ratings, Mr Dare says he is aiming for the top grades so his school-leavers can aspire to the best universities.
He said: ‘We want more of our kids thinking “when I leave here I’m going to go to University College London or Cambridge”.
‘If you say C is good enough our bright children won’t push themselves.
‘If you were at Eton like our Prime Minister you wouldn’t expect to be in a class of 30 – if small class sizes is good enough for Mr Cameron, it’s good enough for our kids.’
This year, King Richard School recorded 120 A* and A grades, with 14 students achieving five or more A* and As compared with seven last year.
Mr Dare says in a perfect world he could apply the small class guarantee to all subjects, but chose year sevens to give them the best possible start.
Lily-May McQuilken, 15, is a year 11 pupil and says she has already noticed the difference with her smaller class size.
She said: ‘Last year there were 26 of us in an English lesson and our teacher didn’t have enough time to come round to everybody in the classroom but now that’s changed – it feels much more personal. The smaller class size has also given me extra confidence to speak out in class and raise any questions I have.
‘I’m so pleased to have this opportunity in my last year as it’s going to be an important one for me.’