MID SCOTLAND and Fife MSP Alex Rowley said there is a need to “foster a discussion” in Fife on its delivery of education.

The MSP challenged Education Secretary John Swinney on primary class sizes after he revealed figures have shown that 307 classes in Fife have more than 25 children while 117 have more than 30 pupils in them.

The figures from the Scottish Government website, which were published this year but date back to 2016, showed schools in West Fife are having to cope with oversized classes.

According to these figures, from its 18 classes, Duloch Primary had 16 with 25 children or more and eight with 30 pupils or more. 

Commercial Primary had 15 classes with more than 25 in it and, from these, seven had more than 30.

At Kings Road Primary in Rosyth, there were 15 classes and there were 12 with more than 25 children and five had 30 pupils or more while

Carnegie Primary had a total of 22 classes with 16 having more than 25 and seven with more than 30 children.

Mr Rowley said parents had spoken to him about class sizes and had raised concerns that teachers were not able to give time to pupils who were struggling with their learning.

“The teacher/pupil ratio in private schools is an average of six to one and as the general secretary of the Secondary Teachers Association said, smaller class sizes are the main selling point for parents who pay for private school places,” he explained. 

“They see the value of it and that’s why they pay for it. Indeed, the Education Institute for Scotland general secretary made the point about class sizes when he said smaller class sizes are important to the delivery of a high-quality learning experience.

"There is much research to demonstrate that pupils in smaller class sizes will do better and that teachers are able to give more time to individual students.

"I believe that we need to foster a discussion in Fife on the delivery of education and the challenges including budgets and class sizes and teacher support.

“The greatest gift one generation can pass to the next is the gift of education and we must be able to ensure that every child in Fife gets an equal chance to achieve their potential.”

In his response to Mr Rowley, Mr Swinney said the Government had applied public equity funding which allows schools to make choices to ensure young people’s needs are met.

“I have seen excellent teaching practice in which additional resources are put into classrooms and young people who require additional support are given that support in more intimate settings than in the classroom environment,” he said. 

“All those measures and interventions are available for schools to deploy and I encourage them to do so.”

Councillor Fay Sinclair, convenor of Fife’s education and children’s services committee, said all Fife primary schools were working within legislation on class sizes. 

“Research tells us that it isn’t class size that drives attainment – and these will inevitably vary between different schools as school rolls fluctuate,” she said.

“We’re focusing on the quality of teaching and learning experiences in our classrooms and seeing good results across all stages.

“Schools also have support resources and, where appropriate, additional budget from the pupil equity fund, which they can use to best suit the needs of their pupils.”