Teachers have claimed that going to work is “like entering the land of giants” because their students are now so tall and heavy.
The weight of 14-year-old male students has skyrocketed from an average of 5 pounds 10 pounds in 1970 to 8.5 pounds, according to one of the NASUWT leaders.
The average height is also said to have increased over the past 50 years from 4 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 8 inches, Elaine Paling told delegates at the teachers’ union annual conference in Birmingham on Sunday.
While telling the audience that she was “a big fan of statistics”, the history teacher claimed that these figures had been taken from the World Health Organization website.
However, a University College Cork study put the average height of a 14-year-old boy in 1970 at 5ft 3in and in 2007 at 5ft 6in.
‘Small desks put physical development at risk’
Ms. Paling told the audience that the “physical development” of students is being “jeopardized” by “being crammed into desks that are too small and forced to sit on plastic chairs that are too narrow and short-backed.” “.
“And where do you put those feet?” she added. “Usually in hallways, a perfect tripping hazard. And why aren’t the school desks and chairs bigger? Because 30 students wouldn’t fit in the classroom.”
Fergal McGuckin, another teacher, told the conference that entering his A-level classes was like entering “the land of the giants.”
“As someone who is a standard 5-foot-8, I really feel vertically challenged in those environments,” he added.
Vote on setting maximum class size limits
His comments came during a Downing Street union vote to set maximum limits on class sizes.
Members claimed that students were using the same size classrooms as their predecessors had in the 1970s.
In 2021, an analysis by the Labor Party found that the number of secondary school pupils in classes of at least 31 had risen from one in 10 in 2010 to almost one in seven pupils.
It suggested that the number of primary school pupils in classes of 31 or more had risen from one in nine in 2010 to one in eight pupils.
The analysis, based on figures from the House of Commons library, found that the number of secondary school pupils in classes of 31 and over rose by more than 130,000 between 2016 and 2020, an increase of 43%.
The Department for Education said: “Schools and education staff have done everything possible throughout the course of the pandemic to make sure all children get the education they deserve.”