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 worrying trend which would impact on individual pupil progression.

Government figures for January show Brightlingsea Primary and Engaines Primary, in Little Clacton, had one class of 36 or more children.

Brightlingsea Primary also had seven classes with 31 or more pupils. Ten other schools in the Clacton area had more than one class with 31 to 35 pupils. A further eight schools had one class with 31 to 35 pupils. In total 46 classes are “oversized”, affecting more than 1,400 pupils.

Across Tendring and Colchester, class sizes have increased by 55 per cent since 2010, compared to a national average 29 per cent rise.

Jerry Glazier, the NEU Essex branch secretary, said: “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.

“Sizes have increased and 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.” An Essex County Council spokesman said: “The council has invested significantly in ensuring there are sufficient school places.

“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.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says the UK has the largest primary school classes in the developed world, with an average of 28 pupils.