Too much heat, not enough light

16th November 2007 at 00:00
My reported comments from the recent AHDS conference have generated a great deal of heat, but not much light, over the important area of class sizes. Despite allegations to the contrary, nowhere did I step back from our commitment to reduce class sizes to 18 for P1-3.

At the conference, I made it clear that I want councils to take a pragmatic, commonsense approach to reducing class sizes, with the educational benefit for children being the most important aspect.

Similarly, for example, if an additional pupil arrives in the class during the school year - pushing the roll to 19 - it could be more disruptive to the pupils to introduce a new teacher and split the class into two, than to have a roll of 19.

I stand by what I have consistently said: an element of local flexibility is important. Such flexibility is not new and was part of the class size reduction arrangements in recent years.

Our intention remains to work with local authorities to see year-on-year reductions in class sizes. We know that's what teachers and parents want, and we'll work with councils to deliver it.

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

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