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Problems facing councils on class sizes quota

The gulf which exists between the rhetoric of the Scottish Government on class sizes and the reality on the ground for Scotland's councils is well illustrated in West Lothian.

The council has confirmed that it requires pound;27million to deliver maximum class sizes of 18 or fewer in P1-3 in its 66 primary schools. It has received pound;3million to assist with all class-size reductions, but the council's capital programme for the next 10 years shows only pound;2million allocated to construction works to provide the extra classrooms and teaching space.

This is despite the claim of Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop that there was enough in the capital allocations for authorities to adapt buildings and provide additional classrooms for reductions.

To reach maximum class sizes of 18 in some primaries, the council will have to use additional school capacity already in the pipeline to support planned housing in West Lothian, which has the youngest and fastest- growing population in Scotland.

Filling up school capacity planned for future housing developments to shore up a commitment on maximum class sizes will presumably hit the buffers when the houses are built, and there are no places in local schools for these children.

Serious problems will arise if the Scottish Government fails to provide robust support to underpin maximum class sizes of 18 pupils or fewer in Pl-3. If councils cannot legally defend a maximum class size of 25, they have no chance of defending one of 18.

Mary Mulligan, Labour MSP, Linlithgow.

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