Smaller classes cause big problems

Regrettably, I find myself unable to take part in the class sizes campaign being run by my union, the Educational Institute of Scotland.

As a teacher of long service, I question whether the huge amount of money which was put into lowering class sizes in P1-3 over several years has had any impact on P4-7 pupils and beyond.

One would expect that, after a smaller class and a good start to P1, improvements would be evident in later years. Sadly, statutory numbers have led to resources being taken away from non-statutory support services so that, in order to lower class sizes from P1-3, funding to support children has lost out.

Furthermore, where schools were able to form classes of 30 and under from their allocated staffing, no enhancement of staffing was provided.

Additional staffing only went to schools which needed additional statutory staffing.

Lowering class sizes across the board also has an impact on all non-statutory provision - music, art, drama, PE, sport and non-teaching staff.

Schools whose accommodation allows only a fixed number of classrooms will have a great problem if class sizes are lowered and children are not able to attend their local or desired school.

If class sizes were lowered to 25, a full single-stream school of seven classes could turn away 56 pupils, while a full double-stream school of 14 classes could be turning away 112 pupils. The problems faced by full schools which have composite classes would be a nightmare.

There would also be a knock-on effect on roll-related services, including the allocation of promoted staff, learning and classroom assistants and clerical staff.

Some teachers are happy for current class sizes to remain. Small is not always beautiful. The skill of teachers, with appropriate professional support and early intervention, has more long-term impact and success.

Glasgow EIS member

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