MP hits out at failure to deliver on class sizes

Jo Swinson
Jo Swinson

MP Jo Swinson has warned SNP ministers that ‘broken promises’ on primary school class sizes are letting local pupils and parents down.

Her criticism comes after new figures showed that the SNP has failed to meet their targets.

In 2007, the SNP pledged to cut class sizes for P1-P3 to 18 pupils or fewer.

However, latest figures show that just 11 per cent of pupils across East Dunbartonshire are being taught in classes which meet the standard.

Meanwhile, in Scotland as a whole, the number of teachers working in schools across the country fell to the lowest level in 10 years.

Ms Swinson, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, called on Education Secretary Angela Constance to take immediate action.

She said: “Locally nearly 90 per cent of P1-P3 pupils are being taught in classes of more than 18. This is especially worrying as in 2013 the figure was under 80 per cent.

“All of this is a far cry from SNP promises to deliver lower class sizes.

“SNP ministers have spent so long campaigning for independence that they have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to supporting key services like education.

“The First Minister talks of creating better opportunities for all, but this can only be achieved with more investment in our schools.”

She added: “Education Secretary Angela Constance has her work cut out to turn this around, but this she must do, and quickly.”

But the SNP Government has insisted that progress is being made and blamed falling education budgets for the failure to meet the class size targets.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is only a few years since more than 16,000 Primary 1 pupils were taught in unacceptably large classes of more than 25.

“Under this Government classes of more than 25 have virtually disappeared.

“This has been achieved in the face of austerity with the budget available to us now around 10 per cent smaller than when the current UK Government took office.

“Our priority continues to be to maintain teacher numbers in line with pupil numbers.

“It is clear the rise in the number of primary teachers over the last year has been outstripped by an increase in primary pupils.”

The spokesperson added: “Discussions with CoSLA, local authorities, teacher unions, parent bodies and others on the best way to measure a broader range of educational outcomes, including teacher numbers, are continuing.”

Legislation introduced back in November 2010 limited class sizes for Primary 1 pupils to 25.