3.5.2 Class size and pupil-teacher ratios (PTRs)

Class size is a significant factor in teacher workload and job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Larger classes are associated with lower levels of professional satisfaction in a number of countries (UNESCO, 2010a).

In addition to establishing teacher recruitment needs as a function of desirable PTRs, a teacher policy may establish regulated limits or more flexible indicators for class size as a measure of the real teaching and learning environment. Notwithstanding claims that class size is not an important policy matter for learning success, sufficient evidence supports establishing class size regulations or indicators targeting teacher effectiveness and learning goals, especially:

  • creating learner-centred approaches (which are compromised by excessively large classes)
  • allowing teachers to give pupils maximum individual attention, with provisions as needed for small group or individualized instruction, or larger groups with teaching aide support, including ICT-based methodologies
  • targeting specific groups of learners or education levels, such as disadvantaged learners, dual-language classes, learners with special educational needs, early childhood and early primary learners.

The evidence from research and real-life experiences points to the importance of policies that address the specifics of class size in accordance with country contexts, especially as they pertain to:

  • ensuring equity in class size targets between regions/districts, rural and urban areas
  • providing training and support to help teachers adapt pedagogical methodologies to realize learning gains for smaller class sizes
  • providing training and support for teaching excessively large, double-shift or multi-grade classes.

Because of its implications for teacher recruitment requirements and therefore available resources, as well as the need to maintain quality standards in smaller class sizes, class size policy must take into consideration current, projected and potential education financing (see Section 3.6) (ILO/UNESCO, 1966; ILO, 2012; OECD, 2005; OECD, 2013a; OECD, 2014a; UNESCO, 2014a; UNESCO/OREALC, 2013, World Bank, 2013).

3.5.1 Hours of work, workload and work-life balance

3.5.3 School infrastructure