Insights and Implications: The Way Forward for Teaching Small Classes

  • Gary James Harfitt


This final chapter starts by considering the significance of the studies reported in earlier chapters and discusses the contribution this book makes to the body of research on class size. The chapter then brings together salient findings from the studies reported previously to offer some key insights that help to illuminate the often complex and controversial area of class size reduction (CSR). I argue that teachers do not always teach small classes in the same way as large classes, a finding that runs contrary to previous research findings. An original aspect of this book is the inclusion of a powerful student voice, previously silent in the literature on class size. The issue of what the student voice can tell us about their perceptions and experiences of small class teaching is a fundamental part of curriculum initiatives like CSR and will be examined in this chapter. At the outset of the book I also stated that I wanted to engage with the school context to throw light on what constitutes good teaching practice in small classes. Observation of ten teachers working in different secondary schools and interviews with hundreds of students has provided me with a rich bank of data on the type of pedagogical practices that appear to work best in small classes. I propose that teachers need to adopt a more purposeful and personalized pedagogy in small classes based around the type of dialogic teaching proposed by Alexander (Towards dialogic teaching: rethinking classroom talk, 4th edn. Dialogos, Thirsk, 2008). All of the issues raised through the case studies are inextricably connected and relate to pedagogy, instruction, culture, educational policy, school leadership, professional development and curriculum planning, and these will be addressed in this chapter. I conclude the chapter by making a number of suggestions for the way forward for class size research, policy and practice.


Professional Development Class Size School Leader Small Class Student Voice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary James Harfitt
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong SAR

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