180 children in a class – yes: one hundred and eighty! – but it’s OK – it’s only PE

A school in England has a class with more than 180 pupils in it as Tory cuts hammer the education system.

Children across the UK are often taught in classes of 100 or more students a Freedom of Information request revealed.

The class of 181 was in a school in Sutton, South West London. It was unclear which subject was being taught, but it was possible it was PE or music.

Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner, said she was appalled by the figures.

She said: “Everyone from the public accounts committee to the teaching unions has warned that Tory cuts will lead to large class sizes – and this admission is yet more evidence that they are right.”

A class in Sefton, Merseyside, had 141 pupils and one in Suffolk had 135. The figures were collected by counting the number of children in each class on a specific day in January this year.

They also showed 10 classes of 70 or more pupils and 52 classes with 50-plus students. At primary school level, there were 14 schools with more than 40 pupils in a class.

The largest primary school class was in Somerset, which had 60 pupils.

Head teachers are calling for more than £1billion extra for education and are linking rising class sizes to the £2.8billion real-terms cut since 2015.

The Department for Education said: “We have invested £5.8billion in the school estate, creating 735,000 places since 2010,

At Harrop Fold School in Salford, the head teacher, Drew Povey, said he had once taught 150 children in a class. “We have taught huge classes in the past, though infrequently, partly to save money on supply teachers.

“I honestly think we are going to see class sizes balloon in schools over the next few years because of the funding cuts.”

Labour made it illegal for schools to have more than 30 pupils in infant classes.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We have spoken to the three schools with the largest class sizes.

“These figures relate to PE lessons and choir practice where it is not uncommon for classes to be taught together.

“The schools’ pupil-to-teacher ratios remain well below the national average.

“We also expect this is the case for many of the other schools reporting larger classes in this data.

“We have invested £5.8bn in the school estate, creating 735,000 places since 2010, and despite rising pupil numbers, the average class size has not changed. In fact, less than 1% of primary school pupils are taught in classes of 36 or more, less than in 2010.”