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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 November 2007, 15:10 GMT
Salmond resists class size calls
Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond said education was already better under the SNP

The SNP government has been accused of breaking class size promises after First Minister Alex Salmond refused to be drawn on the issue.

Under repeated questioning in Holyrood, Mr Salmond resisted pressure on a pledge for classes no bigger than 18 pupils for primaries one to three.

Speaking at question time, the first minister said the government was continuing talks with councils.

Mr Salmond added that Scotland had already seen more teachers.

Labour leader Wendy Alexander said it had become "another day, another broken promise", while her Liberal Democrat counterpart Nicol Stephen claimed the SNP already knew what had to be done to meet the pledge.

What people in Scotland are looking at and wondering is - how did the Labour Party manage to do so little over so long
Alex Salmond
First minister

"It is a betrayal of the parents and teachers across Scotland who believed those promises," said Ms Alexander.

"You have repeatedly made a commitment in parliament - no ifs, no buts, no maybes, nothing about having to rely on others to deliver it, or phasing, or delay.

She told Mr Salmond: "It now seems clear you can't tell us when the policy will be delivered, where it will be delivered, or how much it is going to cost."

Quoting from an SNP press release from its time in opposition, Mr Stephen told MSPs that it stated 3,115 extra teachers would be needed to meet the class size pledge and laid out a cost of 145m to bring in the policy.

"Why were they so clear in opposition, but in government his ministers haven't got a clue?" asked the Lib Dem leader.

Mr Stephen said the Nationalists had been "crystal clear" in opposition: "Dates, costs, numbers down to the last detail," he added.

'More teachers'

"Now, after six months in government, they can't even give us it to the nearest 1,000 either way."

Mr Salmond told MSPs that there were now 300 more teachers in Scotland, 250 additional training places and 40m more invested in the fabric of school buildings across Scotland.

He added: "The finance secretary [John Swinney] is working with local authorities to meet the government commitments - that's what we are doing at the present moment.

"The difference between this government and the opposition is that we believe in lower class sizes.

"What people in Scotland are looking at and wondering is - how did the Labour Party manage to do so little over so long, when the SNP has done so much in so little time."

SEE ALSO
MSPs in class size clarity demand
31 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Union backs class size petition
15 Oct 07 |  Scotland
SNP defeated over education plans
13 Sep 07 |  Scotland
Salmond gives commitment pledge
06 Sep 07 |  Scotland

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