The Tories have broken their promises on class sizes and allowed overcrowding in schools to become normality, Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Rayner said today.
The Labour leader highlighted the government’s failure to deliver on David Cameron’s 2010 pledge as they sought to put Tory failures on public services at the heart of the election campaign.
Corbyn and Rayner, shadow education secretary, published new research showing the scale of “terrible” super-size classes showing children “crammed into classrooms like sardines”. They also echoed a 1997 pledge from Tony Blair to turn things around.
The pair highlighted a “terrible” update which showed that 40,000 primary school children are now in classes of over 36 pupils, and 16,600 are now in class sizes of at least 40. The Conservative manifesto in 2010 promised “small schools with small class sizes”.
The worst affected area is the south east, with over 90,000 primary school pupils in classes over 30. The number of “titan” primary schools, with over 800 pupils, has increased almost seven-fold since 2010. Almost half a million children are in super size primary school classrooms, and the situation is worsening.
The mounting pressure on class sizes is starting to hit secondary schools, with class sizes rising.
Corbyn said: “Seven years of Tory failure and broken promises have left our schools in a terrible state. Hundreds of thousands of our children are paying the price, crammed into classrooms like sardines.
“The prime minister herself has said that super-sized classes are proof of a school system in a crisis. And that’s what we’ve got on the Tories’ watch.
“School leaders and teachers have said that Tory cuts to school budgets will mean class sizes will be forced to grow even larger. We cannot risk our children’s education in this way.
“Labour will stand up for all children by building a schools system for everyone, keeping class sizes down and making sure schools and teachers have the resources they need to ensure that every child, whatever their background, has access to a world-class education.”
Rayner said: “This situation is becoming unsustainable – too many children are being taught in classes which are simply too big.
“The system for school place planning is broken. The Tories need to let go of their unjustified fixation with free schools, but instead they have relaxed the rules so even more can be built in areas where there is no demand for places. Free schools are clearly not addressing the growing pressures on schools,” she added.