In a pickle over smaller classes

28th November 2003 at 00:00
The growing row over the Executive's determination to limit English and maths classes to 20 at the early secondary stages is a salutary reminder that educational policies are not best born out of political expediency (page three). There is little doubt that the political capital the SNP was making in the last Parliament over its plans to reduce class sizes to 18 provoked Labour and the Liberal Democrats to try to trump them - and so the new policy was born.

It must have seemed a dream at the time. Here was something that might dish the Nats, flag up the Executive's preoccupation with literacy and numeracy, underline concern about the S1-S2 stages, require the appointment of more teachers and show a "prudent" attitude to expenditure.

But what it did not do was take account of the school rebuilding plans under way across Scotland; nor did it take account of whether schools wanted it in the first place. Ministerial rhetoric has been about freeing schools to find their own solutions to underperformance, so this policy is the antithesis of that.

It might have been thought that the juggling of staffing and accommodation to comply with the 30-pupil limit in P1-P3 would have acted as a warning, particularly when there is agreement that small reductions in class sizes have little or no effect. After all, practical subjects are already limited to classes of 20: is there any evidence they have commanding results?

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now