Anatomy of the class size crisis

Our graphic, below, reveals how negative feelings about class sizes increased after the budget, but disappeared with the Govt backdown.

The graph shows the sentiments expressed online (web / social media).

Some interesting observations:

  1. Negative comment did not become significant until three days after the Budget announcement.
  2. Negative comment did not decline with the Government’s announcement it would “cap” teacher losses.
  3. Negative comment was at its peak in the 24 hours before the final ‘backdown’ announcement
  4. The announcement virtually stopped all negative sentiment, although media coverage (comprising most of the neutral line) continued.

Our assessment:

  1. It can take a few days for interest groups and the public to comprehend, connect, and campaign against policy changes
  2. Media coverage plays roles as spark, torch and follower of public opinion
  3. Backdowns shut down expression of negative sentiment


  • The number of mentions includes only 10% of Twitter traffic, to make manual assessment manageable.
  • Online media coverage of the issue is coded as “neutral”, although opinion columns expressing views are coded according to sentiment expressed about class sizes (only).

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