Class Size Reduction in Primary Schools - Another SNP Broken Promise on Education

The announcement this morning by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, that she will introduce a legal cap of 25 pupils on P1-3 class sizes will leave parents wondering about the competence of the Cabinet Secretary at mental arithmetic. There is clearly a big difference between the SNP's May 2007 Manifesto Commitment to reduce P1-3 class sizes to 18 with the Cabinet Secretary's announcement of a legal maximum of 25. No amount of spin can remove the 18 or less pledge from the 2007 SNP manifesto. The question that SNP Government ministers must answer is when will 18 or less be met.

As Labour Education Convener in Dundee, until April this year, I was clear that class size reductions were particularly desirable in the early years of schooling but could only be achieved in all Dundee Primary Schools if the government in Holyrood was committed to finance the cost of the extra teachers and classrooms. The government has not given councils one extra penny to pay for the P1-3 class size of 18 policy so not surprisingly progress on reducing class sizes is very slow.

Without extra classrooms and cash to employ more teachers and to erect more classrooms, a legal cap of 25 might reduce parental and carers choice when they find that their local school is full and cannot accommodate all of the placing requests from the school's catchment area.

I think, many parents, carers and teachers will be disappointed that this is another extravagant electoral promise about Education that the SNP government is now conceding it cannot keep.”