THOUSANDS of primary school pupils are being taught in oversized classes, Government figures have revealed.

Data analysed by the National Education Union showed the number of youngsters receiving lessons in class sizes of more than 30 has risen sharply.

The union said the figures revealed a “shocking” trend which would impact on individual pupil progression.

St John’s Green Primary School, in Colchester, revealed it had reached its 600 pupil capacity and has five classes teaching more than 30 pupils.

This includes two Year 1 classes of 31 pupils.

Government figures for January show Brightlingsea Primary and Nursery School had one class of 36 or more children.

It also had seven classes filled with 31 or more pupils.

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This rise was reflected elsewhere in Colchester and Tendring, with the number of pupils in class sizes of more than 30 reaching 32,260.

This is an increase of 55 per cent since 2010, compared to a national average 29 per cent rise.

Jerry Glazier, the NEU Essex branch secretary, said:”We have seen an increase in these statistics since 2010.

“It is bad news for parents, carers and children to see class sizes ratchet up over that time.

“It means less time in class spent on each pupil.

“It is a problem compounded by schools facing reduced funding.

“Not only have sizes increased, support available for those classes has declined.

“The impact it is having on teaching staff is important as their work loads have increased.

“As a direct consequence there is a real problem with recruitment and particularly retention of teaching staff.”

The figures show in the last academic year there were two primary school classes in the Colchester constituency teaching 36 pupils or more, with 2,402 children learning in classes of between 31 and 35 pupils.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “The council has invested significantly in ensuring that there are sufficient school places in all parts of the county.

“We will always reflect and respond to any concerns as appropriate, within the parameters defined in legislation.

“The council and schools are required to comply with the requirements of national infant class size legislation.

“Any admissions into an infant class already at 30 pupils can only be agreed under the limited circumstances prescribed in law.

“There are situations where, entirely lawfully, an infant class, or indeed any other class can exceed 30 pupils.

“In such circumstances, parents and schools may express concern, although it is incumbent of schools and councils to comply with statutory requirements.”

In England and Wales, there is no legal limit on the size of any class above Key Stage 1.

However, class sizes of up to 30 pupils are widely considered to be the norm.

At Key Stage 1, classes taught by a single teacher cannot exceed 30 pupils.

The recent Education at a Glance study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed the UK has the largest primary school classes in the developed world, with an average of 28 pupils.