What’s the difference between 31 and 25?

I know the obvious answer is 6 but when we’re talking about class size there are lots of other answers.

Earlier this week I had 6 pupils absent.

Environment 

Suddenly the classroom seemed more spacious. Rather than jostling for space and having to move like a crab between chairs and tables we could walk and sit in comfort.

During our Science lesson I was able to sit and talk to every group. I could listen and observe.

The children all had ample room to set up and carry out their experiments.  They could work in groups of 3 instead of 4 meaning that they all had more opportunities to participate in practical tasks.

The noise level dropped.

The work rate increased. Why?
I was able to intervene more often, I was able to support all the pupils who required help, I was able to assess and talk about how they could improve their work.

“Don’t you usually do that?” you’re thinking

Yes, of course I do. But 25 v. 31.
The 25 are going to get a better deal everytime.

Workload

When you think about class sizes it can’t be denied that there is a direct correlation between class size and teacher workload.

Working on an average of 3 pieces of work per day or 15 per child per week it doesn’t take long to work out that in a 6 week half term Teacher A with 25 pupils marks 540 less books than Teacher B with 31 pupils.

540 pieces of work.

Let’s assume that it takes an average of 2.5 minutes per book (and that’s a low estimate.)

Thats 22.5 hours more of marking per half term.

And that’s before we start adding up the increased hours taken to write the reports and meet with parents.

Lots of academic research seems to indicate that pupils in large classes aren’t disadvantaged but I really don’t understand how this can be.

Surely teachers with smaller classes have more time to devote to each child and are able to personalise, support and scaffold their learning more effectively.