There can be no excuse for excessive class sizes in the West Midlands at a time of falling pupil numbers, a union leader said last night.
Brian Carter, Midland regional secretary of the National Union of Teachers, reacted angrily to findings that one in seven primary pupils in the region are taught in classes of more than 30.
He claimed authorities were squandering a "golden opportunity" to exploit a decline in the birthrate to ensure pupils got more attention.
Instead, many of them are looking at the possibility of closing and amalgamating schools.
Mr Carter said: "This is very disturbing news particularly at a time when many local education authorities are carrying out revues of their primary school provision in order to close schools.
"If local authorities aren't even meeting the statutory requirements they are missing a golden opportunity where we have the buildings, if only they would employ the teachers."
Mr Carter added: "There can be no excuse in the West Midlands for LEAs not bringing class sizes down."
Earlier this year, The Birmingham Post revealed a tenth - equal to 9,000 - of primary school places in Birmingham would be lost by the end of the decade to cope with falling rolls.
This comes in the face of an overall 14 per cent fall in the birth rate in Birmingham between 1991 and 2002.
One of Birmingham City Council's current Tory/Lib Dems leadership pledges in education was to halve first year reception class sizes to raise standards.
Mr Carter claimed Ministers should do more to ensure smaller class sizes.
"The most obvious lesson is the independent sector has smaller classes and it is time the state sector matched their class sizes."
The Government warned local authorities in 2004 that schools with surplus places must either expand their services, merge or close.
It claimed in the West Midlands a quarter of classroom seats in primary and secondary schools were empty.