Smaller class sizes revolutionise learning at Doncaster school, say staff and pupils

Smaller class sizes have helped transform teaching and learning for staff and pupils at a Doncaster school.

By Darren Burke
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 2:56 pm

A new and innovative approach to the way year groups, also known as phases, are run is under way in the XP Trust, with Thorne’s Green Top Primary among those benefitting from the new approach.

Where schools would normally have two teachers per year group and classes of around 30, at Green Top this has been replaced by five teachers per phase.

Having three teachers in a year group and classes reduced to 24 students has created a direct and bespoke approach to teaching that optimises learning, say school bosses.

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Pupils and staff are benefitting from smaller class sizes.

And the changes have benefited students, teachers and parents alike.

Speaking to the former headteacher of Green Top and the driving force behind the change, Claira Salter, now Principal of XPD, the fundamental idea that underpins the new phase approach is that the priority of a teacher is to deliver high quality teaching to the students in front of them.

The addition of another teacher per phase allows this to happen and even improves this further by sharing the workload between five people. Because of this, staff have more time to make marking and critique personal and prompt, while targeting planning to support the specific needs of their classes.

A spokesman said: “Not only does this change benefit staff on an individual level, but the new system also encourages a more collaborative approach within phase groups, leading to new and creative ideas being contributed to enrich the pupils’ learning.

“The students are the heart and soul of the school and so when they are thriving, the whole school is too. Therefore, not only does a better resourced phase aim to benefit the staff, the main priority is to benefit the children. Having smaller class sizes means the children get the individual support they need and deserve, and that is reflected in the quality of work they produce and progress made.”

On top of academic achievements, the new system also enriches the social aspect of school life, say XP chiefs. The relationship between the student and teacher is enhanced as they have one on one time to build this connection.

As a teacher at Green Top shared, “You get to know them inside and out”- which underlines how much smaller class sizes can benefit the bond between teacher and student.”

This also further helps the academic side, for example a particular barrier in primary school is reading and the teachers themselves have said that the children now have plenty of opportunities to read with an adult they have a strong relationship with.

Every aspect, whether it’s social or academic, comes together to create a more personal and cohesive learning environment, because of one change made to the phase.

The students at Green Top have described the new sizes as having transformed their classes into a place where you are always with a crew while at school. This is certainly what XP is all about, always being part of a team that supports and challenges you.

The new phase approach at Green Top seeks to ensure that staff wellbeing is positive and child relationships are strong, creating a community built on collaboration, mutual support and progress that should be celebrated and shared with the world