Small will be beautiful

12th March 2004 at 00:00
The new class contact time arrangements are a positive step for Scottish teachers and for Scottish education. Bringing new teachers, especially specialist teachers, into schools will contribute greatly to enriching the experience of young people.

We must be vigilant to ensure, however, that the new arrangements are properly implemented. There must be clarification of the role of the new teachers beyond their teaching duties, on issues such as planning, assessment and reporting to parents as well as the relationship to the curriculum already provided by the school.

It is also essential that the new teachers are given the time they need while in the school to ensure that their own specialist expertise brings benefits to all the pupils in the class.

For too many years cuts in specialist provision have been seen as a soft option for local authorities faced with the need to make cuts because of reductions in government funding. Now is the opportunity not only to make good the cuts which have been made, but to bring considerable benefits to the curriculum as a whole.

The Scottish Executive has made a commitment to reduce class sizes in specific areas of the curriculum and this move is widely supported by teachers. However, we must also be vigilant and ensure that class sizes are not allowed to creep up in other areas as a result of reductions in class contact time.

There are already indications in some areas that councils aspire to increase class sizes in order to deploy fewer new teachers. This cannot be allowed to happen and is totally outwith the spirit of the teachers'

agreement.

More new teachers and smaller class sizes will bring great benefits to the education of children in our nursery and primary schools.

Sheena Wardhaugh

President-elect

Educational Institute of Scotland

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