Forum Letter Replies

July 31, 2014

Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) Differs from Class Size

In his letter “Is student-teacher ratio correct?”, Mr Ivan Goh compared the ratio to class size.

Pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) is the ratio of the total pupil enrolment to the total number of teaching staff in schools, while class size refers to the number of students being taught by a teacher at a particular time.

Today, the PTR is about 17 students to one teacher at the primary level, and 14 students to one teacher at secondary level. If the class size is the same as the PTR, it would mean all the teachers are teaching classes all the time. This is not tenable as teachers would need time to prepare for classes, to mark assignments, and to guide students who need help.

Depending on how schools group their students and deploy their teachers for the various subjects, the class size would vary. For example, learning support programmes in literacy and mathematical skills at Primary 1 and 2 are conducted in classes of eight to 10 students.

Some schools may also choose to deploy two teachers to a class of 40 students where one teacher guides the class through the curriculum while the other teacher assists specific students who may have greater learning difficulties.

We thank Mr Goh for the opportunity to clarify.

Mr Leong Der Yao
Director, Human Resource Strategy & Leadership
Ministry of Education

Is student-teacher ratio correct? (Ivan Goh, ST My Point, 29/7, pA19)

I have two daughters, one in Primary 3 and the other in Secondary 2. There about 40 children in each of their classes.

Hence, I was puzzled to read on the Ministry of Education website (Education Statistics Digest 2013) that in 2012, the ratio of students to teaching staff was 17.7 for primary schools, and 13.9 for secondary schools.

Can the Education Ministry explain why these figures do not reflect the reality on the ground?