BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2007, 18:44 GMT
MSPs in class size clarity demand
Child writing
Tories said headteachers should control class sizes
MSPs have demanded that the SNP government brings forward detailed plans on cutting class sizes.

Opposition parties claimed ministers had failed to provide a statement on a manifesto pledge for sizes of no more than 18 in primaries 1-3.

But Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the administration was working to deliver its policies on class sizes.

MSPs voted for a Labour amendment in the Scottish Parliament, calling for the statement to be made.

MSPs also passed a government motion recognising that "early intervention" with young people had a crucial role to play in tackling inequality, as well as a Liberal Democrat amendment to develop P1 as a "transition year" from nursery to formal education.

There will be many local authorities looking to see what the Labour Party position is, and whether they support lower class sizes or not - and so far, I think the answer is no
Fiona Hyslop
Education secretary

Speaking in parliament, Labour education spokeswoman Rhona Brankin claimed the class size pledge would require Glasgow alone to hire 397 teachers and build 186 extra classrooms at a cost of 47m.

"We believe the SNP's class size pledge is under threat and unlikely to be met," she said.

Ms Brankin accused the Nationalists of avoiding giving detail, and challenged Ms Hyslop to give a projected cost for the reduction, adding: "The SNP must have one - it's a huge commitment they have made to Scottish parents."

But Ms Hyslop said talks were currently under way with councils.

'Straight answer'

The education secretary went on: "[Ms Brankin] has to decide whether she agrees with the reduction in class sizes or not.

"Because there will be many local authorities looking to see what the Labour Party position is, and whether they support lower class sizes or not - and so far, I think the answer is no."

Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said class sizes should be determined by headteachers, not government.

"That is what is wrong with some aspects of SNP policy, most clearly exemplified by its universal one size fits all application of reducing class sizes in primary one to three - even when this cannot be properly funded and when it is certainly not always the appropriate priority," she told MSPs.

Jeremy Purvis, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said the forthcoming Scottish budget must provide a "straight answer to the straight question" of cutting class sizes.

SEE ALSO
How MSPs voted in the parliament
31 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Pledge to boost primary teachers
20 Jun 07 |  Scotland
Support call over smaller classes
23 May 07 |  Scotland
SNP facing tough tests on skills
14 Sep 07 |  Scotland

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific