Class size cuts pile pressure on school rolls

30th November 2007 at 00:00
A falling birth rate has left the bulk of Scotland's schools with dwindling rolls and councils wrestling with school closures. But one local authority has different pressures: as many as half of its primaries are in danger of becoming overcrowded.

Over the coming years, plans to build new homes in Perth and Kinross will swell the population to such an extent that 47 per cent of primaries in the area are at risk of being within five places, or above, of full capacity, according to John Fyffe, acting executive director of education and children's services.

The situation is being exacerbated by the Scottish Government's initiative to reduce class sizes, Mr Fyffe says in a report to his committee. Already, reducing primary one classes to 25 pupils "has resulted in a number of schools having little or no space to allow additional, new catchment area children to be accommodated", and the impact of reducing class sizes to 18 in P1-3 has yet to be assessed.

School improvement and building programmes, both underway and in the pipeline, will not solve the problem.

Perth and Kinross Council is in the midst of a three-year investment programme that will see pound;21 million spent upgrading school buildings. Through PPP, it plans by 2011 to have constructed new secondary schools in Kinross and Crieff, an all-through new school campus in Aberfeldy, a similar new Roman Catholic school campus in Perth, a new primary school campus in Blairgowrie consisting of two primaries, and a new nurseryprimary campus in Perth.

However, Mr Fyffe's report warns that "considerable deficiencies" will remain. These will have to be addressed by a mixture of future investment in existing buildings, rationalisation or replacement of some existing schools and the construction of new schools.

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