Scots schools crisis as class sizes soar
As concerns about the Nats’ handling of the country’s education system continue to mount, the latest figures provide yet another stark example of the problems facing them.
Earlier this week teachers’ chiefs warned that their members were “on their knees” due to the increased pressure they were facing in the classroom.
Yesterday, Labour raised concerns about a 40 per cent increase in the number of primary pupils being taught in classes of 30 pupils or more.
In 2016, checks revealed that 44,667 (11 per cent) of Scotland’s 396,697 primary pupils were in a class of more than 30 children. That compares to 31,842 (9 per cent) of the 366,429 pupils in 2011.
Promises, pledges and PR stunts on education cannot hide the SNP’s dismal record on our schools
Labour said the figures underlined the need to use the Scottish Parliament’s income tax powers to invest more in education.
The party’s education spokesman, Iain Gray MSP, said: “The SNP came to power -promising to cut classroom sizes – instead it has just cut the number of teachers in our schools. Promises, pledges and PR stunts on education cannot hide the SNP’s dismal record on our schools – 4,000 fewer teachers, £1.5billion cut from local budgets, super-sized school classes and a stubborn attainment gap between the richest and the rest.”
He highlighted comments made earlier this week by EIS president Nicola Fisher at the SNP’s conference in -Glasgow that teachers were “on their knees”, with low pay and high workloads taking a toll on mental, physical and emotional health.
Iain Gray, Scottish Labour's education spokesman, slammed the figures
Mr Gray added: “Not only has the SNP betrayed parents and pupils with this broken promise – it is one of the reasons John Swinney was told to his face at the SNP conference that Scottish teachers are ‘on their knees’.
“Just as 10 years of the SNP has left Scottish teachers among the lowest paid and most overworked in the developed world, they have also delivered some of the biggest class sizes in the world in -Scottish schools.”
He added: “The SNP has developed a habit of adopting Labour policies in recent months – including a dedicated bursary to attract more graduates to train as science, technology, engineering or mathematics teachers. Ministers should go a step further and take on board Labour’s plan to stop the cuts and give teachers a better deal.”
Last night, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “In 2010, we legislated to reduce the maximum class size in Primary 1 to 25, its lowest ever level. Since then, the number of P1 pupils in a class size of 26 or more has decreased by 90 per cent from 6,896 in 2010 to 698 in 2016.
“We are reforming the education system to close the poverty-related attainment gap and target resources at the children, schools and communities which most need them.
“We are investing £88million this year so every school has access to the right number of teachers and securing places for all probationers who want them.
“Our investment has enabled councils to maintain the pupil-teacher ratio and halted a period of steady decline in teacher recruitment, resulting in 253 more teachers last year – the first substantial increase since 2007.”
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