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Small is beautiful, but uneconomic

MINISTERS HAVE set aside pound;48 million over the next three years to hire teachers and expand accommodation so that smaller classes can be formed, at an eventual annual cost of pound;20 million.

But while authorities would be prepared to put two teachers into a year group of 45 or 50, directors say, none would want the expense of hiring an extra teacher for a class of 33 or 36. One answer, now stuck in the negotiating impasse with the unions, would be to remove the 25-pupil limit on two-stage composite classes, allowing more to be formed.

Roy Jobson, director of education in Edinburgh, which has a number of large magnet schools, welcomed the discretion given to authorities but said the implications for staffing and accommodation were not yet clear.

The Scottish Office, worried by the spending effects, has pressed authorities to be more precise in their plans and has knocked back several class size proposals pending further clarification.

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