Since I wrote about class sizes yesterday I've come across a few other articles about class sizes - most of which seem to think that smaller class sizes are what matters. They are wrong.
Class size is largely immaterial. Many countries have far larger class sizes than Britain - even as high as 50 to 70 - but still achieve better results. I should point out that I'm referring to general education here. Once you get onto university and specialised education - by which time the learner has, or should have, developed good study skills - it helps enormously to have smaller groups and one to one tuition, but for general education class size really isn't a big deal.
There are, in fact, just three key factors in delivering high quality education.
First of all, discipline. This doesn't mean caning and thrashing children for every minor infringement of school rules, but it does mean having rules and making sure that the children understand them and follow them - with suitable punishment for those that do infringe those rules. Discipline is important because, as I hinted at earlier, studying IS a discipline that has to be learned. It's also important in teaching children that their actions have consequences and if they break rules they will be punished accordingly.
The second thing is good teachers. What makes a good teacher? Well, contrary to most peoples view it is not a high level of knowledge. What makes a good teacher is having the ability to pass knowledge on to others and help them to understand. Quite often, as I'm sure most of you are aware, the most gifted, qualified and knowledgeable people are utterly incapable of passing that knowledge on to others. So it's not about how qualified a teacher is - largely irrelevant at primary school level, to be honest - but how good they are at communicating with children.
The third thing and the most overlooked today is good teaching methods. Over the last 40-50 years we've seen countless new "trendy" teaching methods introduced most of which have have failed to improve standards and, far worse, have often lowered standards. Ditch trendy teaching methods and go back to tried and trusted teaching methods that are proven to be effective.
That's all you need - certainly in primary school. As I said, the more specialised the learning becomes the more attention you need to give individual pupils and it then helps to have smaller groups - but for teaching kids to read, write and count the size of the class isn't really that important.