YOUNGSTERS in Blackburn with Darwen are being taught in larger than average class sizes ­— with pupil numbers forecast to increase, figures show.

Some children are being taught in classes of more than 30 pupils, according to department for education statistics.

But education bosses moved to reassure parents saying that large classes are the exception rather than the rule.

Figures show that, at the start of this year, there were six classes with 31 to 35 children, with a combined total of 186 pupils, in Key Stage One.

The average class size in the borough stood at 27.1 compared to a North West average of 26.9.

In Key Stage Two, there were 51 classes which had 31 to 35 pupils ­— a total of 1632 pupils.

And four classes were packed with 36 or more children.

The average Key Stage Two class had 28.8 children, compared to 27.9 in the North West.

And department for education figures show that numbers of pupils is set to increase by more than 1,000 ­— from 13,745 in 2010 to 14,891 in primary school ­— an increase of eight per cent ­— by next year.

And in secondary school, the figures are set to increase by 25 per cent on 2010 ­— 8,314 to 10,365.

But council bosses stressed the figures are forecasts ­and, due to changes in the educational landscape ­— ­including the provision of more good state-sector school places, for example, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Blackburn joining the state-funded sector a few years ago.

Cllr Maureen Bateson, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s education boss, said: “Our primary schools in Blackburn with Darwen really do punch above their weight ­— delivering good outcomes for our children and young people.

“While some of the class sizes may be slightly bigger than we like, this is a rare exception, and the schools are well equipped to manage.

“We are always looking at creative ways of improving our schools and work really closely with the head teachers there to ensure we’re offering the very best educational experience we can. Our priority is always to ensure pupils achieve their full potential.”

A recent report suggested Blackburn with Darwen, along with Knowsley and Sefton, is the worst place for falling teacher numbers ­— a claim disputed by the local authority which stressed the figures do not tally with their numbers.

The figures, released by education company TES, state numbers have declined from 1,488 in 2014 to 1,391 in 2018, but a spokesman for the council said its figures show the number of teachers in classrooms stood at 1284.9 in 2014 and 1306.3 in 2018.

TES released the figures to illustrate the growing national crisis facing schools to “attract and retain” staff.

According to figures, more than 20 per cent of new teachers leave the profession within their first two years of joining and 33 per cent leave within their first five years. TES has launched Tomorrow’s Teachers to nurture and train potential teachers.

The organisation says that the North West as a whole is predicted to be short of 6,181 teachers by 2024.

Lord Jim Knight, Chief Education and External Officer at TES, said: “The shortage of teachers could have devastating consequences for the next generation’s education.

“If every school in the country spotted a potential teacher from its student cohort each year and then gave them the practical skills and support to get them on that career path, it could have a very positive impact.”

Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, added: “If we don’t take action, the teacher recruitment crisis we’re facing will only get worse. I welcome anything we can do to encourage more young people to consider a career in teaching and hope students are inspired by Tomorrow’s Teachers to find out more about this rewarding vocation.”