Implementation not policy wrong

11th December 2009 at 00:00

There has been widespread misinterpretation of the latest Scottish Council of Economic Advisers' report. Its conclusion - "the council is sceptical that the simple objective of reducing class size as a method of improving teaching, will prove sufficient" - is correct.

Where class-size reductions have been pursued without taking care to maintain teacher quality, they have tended to fail. However, this does not mean the Government's policy of reducing P1-3 classes to 18 or fewer is wrong.

As a member of Michael Russell's working party on education policy when he was shadow education minister, I reviewed the economic implications of class-size reduction and the research evidence was (and is) clear and robust: classes of 18 or fewer for P1-3 have significant and sustainable economic, educational and social benefits, up to and including entry to the labour market.

It is quite legitimate to question policy implementation, but that does not mean the policy is wrong.

Neil Kay, economics department, Strathclyde University.

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