Youngsters at a popular York primary school face being taught in a class of nearly 40 next year.

The situation at Lord Deramore's Primary School, in Heslington, contrasts with that at Carr Infant School in Acomb, where a quarter of the staff are facing redundancy because of falling numbers caused by a drop in the local birth rate.

From September, 10 and 11 year-olds in year six at Lord Deramore's will be taught in a class of 37.

Head teacher Sheena Bell admitted the situation, due in part at least to the popularity of the school, was not ideal, although it was hoped that by September 1999 the year six class size would be back down to 32.

She said: "It is desirable to have classes under 30.

"The governors have worked incredibly hard at the school to keep the numbers as small as possible but it is the same for many, many schools across the city."

In York, almost a third of infant and primary pupils are in classes of more than 30.

The council has vowed a cash injection of £900,000 announced earlier this year, including nearly £150,000 from Government, would go into employing extra teachers to bring infant class sizes down from September.

Philip Wells, assistant director of education at the City of York Council, said: "It will make a big impact with 900 children at key stage one in classes under 30.

"There is maybe some hope in the long term the issue of class sizes in key stage two (eight to 11 years) will be addressed but it is clear the Government is focused, at the moment, in getting infant class sizes down."

The disclosure over class sizes at Lord Deramore's comes as Labour's promise to cut class sizes for younger children appears threatened.

By 2002, the Government has pledged five, six and seven-year-olds in classes will not be taught in classes of more than 30.

But new figures published this week are expected to show more than 1.3 million primary school pupils are now in classes of 31 or more - the highest for more than 20 years.

Meanwhile, the final appeal into the three proposed redundancies at Carr Infants School will be heard tomorrow.

Noel Hulse, secretary of York NUT, said he is hopeful other jobs will become available for the teachers facing the chop.

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