How many students are there per class?

How many students really sit in a class

What's the matter: Reader Walter Kottnig wants to know by e-mail what the claim by Education Minister Claudia Schmied (SPÖ) is about that the maximum number of class students has been reduced to 25 students.

Right?: First of all: Even if the political parlance speaks of a reduction in the number of schoolchildren to 25, this is only a guideline, which Minister Schmied emphasizes.

This guideline value is therefore exceeded and only applies to elementary schools, new middle schools, secondary schools and polytechnic schools as well as to the AHS lower level. For the upper grades of high schools there is a mean upper limit of 30 young people per class, a fact that is annoying for supporters of general higher schools. In 2011 the teachers' union Eckehard Quin saw an attack on the grammar school in the education policy of the minister: "Your goal is to kill the AHS school type."

The actual maximum number of students in class may deviate from the guideline values ​​by 20 percent in order to prevent students being rejected. In compulsory schools, the number in the class may increase to a maximum of 30 students per class, and in grammar schools to a maximum of 36.

Currently, around 332 million euros per year are being used to reduce the maximum number of students in class.In primary schools, the Ministry of Education has given an average of 18.2 students for 2010/11, and in Austrian classes in lower secondary level the average is 21.2 students . Both values ​​are below the OECD average (see document from the Ministry of Education).

There have been significant changes in the number of high school students in recent years. While the average number of students per class in the AHS lower level was around 27.4 in 2006/07, the Ministry of Education reports around 24 students for the previous school year. In the other compulsory schools there was an improvement from 20.6 to 18.3 students over the same period. However, there are major differences when it comes to exceeding the guideline value. When asked by, the Ministry of Education said that in elementary schools, secondary schools, new middle schools and polytechnical schools, the maximum number of classroom students was observed in 99.4 percent of the cases.

The situation is different in the AHS lower level: Here, the benchmark value is only achieved in 69.2 percent of the cases in the 2012/13 school year. However, here too the numbers have changed massively since the 2006/07 school year. At that time, the benchmark was met in only 26.8 percent of the cases.

On the other hand, the use of smaller numbers of schoolchildren, a mantra of education politicians, is controversial. In an interview with the STANDARD, Jörg Dräger, who is responsible for education on the board of directors of the German Bertelsmann Foundation, said about the number of schoolchildren: "Very small classes of, for example, less than twelve children have a positive effect, very large classes of over 36 have a negative effect on learning behavior The children's learning success. But in between - whether 27, 25 or 23 children - smaller classes are expensive, but with no effect. The teachers feel a relief of stress, but the children's learning success does not improve. " The study by the New Zealand education scientist John Hattie also sees lowering the maximum number of classroom students as a critical improvement measure.

Conclusion: As is so often the case, the truth lies in the eye of the beholder. In Austria there are still schools with more than 25 or 30 students, but they are the norm, especially in compulsory schools. This assertion is true for elementary schools, secondary schools and new middle schools; there is a lot of catching up to do in the lower AHS. The results: