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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
More staff teaching fewer pupils
School class - generic
The number of school pupils is falling
The number of pupils in Scotland's schools has fallen by almost 6,500 in the space of a year, according to the latest figures.

Statistics from last year's school census showed that the number of teachers had risen by more than 1,000 since 2001.

The figures, published by the Scottish Executive's education department, also revealed that average class sizes in publicly-funded primary schools had fallen to 24 pupils - a drop of 0.3 from the previous year.

Education Minister Peter Peacock said: "More teachers and smaller classes is good news for Scotland's school pupils."

The annual census was carried out in September last year.

Full-time teachers

It found that there were 6,496 fewer pupils in primary, secondary and special schools than in 2001.

The number of primary school pupils dropped by 6,808 to 413,713, while the number in secondary school rose by 544 to 316,903.

Primary schools had the equivalent of 22,980 full-time teachers, an increase of 691, while the number in secondary schools rose by 488 to 25,040.

We are committed to delivering first class education services for children throughout Scotland
Peter Peacock
Education Minister
The number of teachers in special schools fell by one to 2,028, while the number of pupils fell by 202 to 7,981.

Mr Peacock welcomed the revelation that Scotland had the equivalent of 50,048 full-time teachers, up from 48,870 the previous year.

He said the fall in class sizes was good news for pupils.

"We are committed to delivering first class education services for children throughout Scotland and ensuring that all youngsters can reach their full potential," he said."

The minister said the executive was commited to going further and increasing the number of primary, secondary and pre-school teachers to 53,000 by 2007.

"We will target these teachers to meet clear priorities, allowing us to reduce class sizes to a maximum of 20 for maths and English in S1 and S2 and 25 in primary one," he added.

Critics from the Scottish National Party seized on figures which, they claim, suggested not enough pupils had e-mail addresses.

Spokesman Fiona Hyslop insisted: "The Scottish Executive has once again failed to meet all of their objectives in education, despite moving the goal posts and changing the original targets."

She added: "This is exactly the sort political manoeuvring that the public are rejecting, and it is time that this string of missed targets was addressed."

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