Page last updated at 12:37 GMT, Saturday, 6 June 2009 13:37 UK

Class size teacher action closer

Pupils in a classroom
Teachers will be asked to take action over class sizes

Scotland's teachers have moved a step closer to taking industrial action over the issue of class sizes.

Members of Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, have voted for a ballot on taking action in pursuit of classes with no more than 20 pupils.

A majority also called for the cap to have statutory force.

The union's leader has claimed almost half of Scotland's councils have made no progress towards the government target of 18 pupils per class.

A union spokesman said: "This clearly indicates that Scottish teachers feel let down on class sizes.

It is time now for the government to bite the bullet and move to promote regulations to limit class sizes across all our schools
Ronnie Smith, EIS

"Promises have been made to reduce class sizes in our schools, and the progress has been extremely limited to date.

"Some local authorities have openly refused to work towards their commitments to reduce class sizes, in defiance of the Scottish Government's stated aims and the concordat that local authorities freely entered into.

"The message to the Scottish Government and local authorities is clear - teachers expect the promises made to them on class sizes to be kept, and teachers will do everything possible to hold our political leaders to account."

Scottish Government policy is to have early primary classes limited to no more than 18 pupils.

A government spokesman said: "Across Scotland, class sizes in primary school have fallen to an all-time low of 23.2.

"In partnership with local government, we are committed to continue achieving year on year progress in reducing class sizes in primaries 1-3.

"To help achieve this we are providing local authorities with record levels of funding - £23bn from 2008-10."

Legislation call

Ronnie Smith, EIS general secretary, used a speech to the union's annual conference to call for legislation to reduce pupil numbers but councils said schools cannot be shielded from pressure on public funds.

He said: "It is time now for the government to bite the bullet and move to promote regulations to limit class sizes across all our schools.

"I know it is difficult to secure legislation as a minority administration.

"But all MSPs, of all parties, should be challenged to vote against legislating to cut class size - to vote down the chance to deliver on the promises they nearly all made at the last election."

Ken Macintosh MSP, Labour's schools spokesman, claimed the government need to put more funds in place to deliver class size promises.



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SEE ALSO
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