Recently, East Asian countries have sought to reduce the size of primary classes, in contrast to current Western perspectives which are based on the argument that other factors are more important in bringing about improvements in literacy and numeracy. This shift in thinking arises because the rationale for class size reductions in East Asia differs from that which influenced previous Western efforts.Initially, the paper explores the consequences of these different approaches and the problems and attempted solutions which arise when class size reductions are implemented. A specific case study is described and key elements in the implementation process identified. Finally, the paper suggests ways that present small class practice might be modified to meet current East Asian educational goals. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.