Too many pupils in 40% of P1s

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ALMOST 40 per cent of city schools are teaching primary one children in class sizes larger then the recommended 25.

Headteachers have been forced to increase their P1 class sizes this year after the Scottish Government failed to introduce new legislation to give councils powers to cap classes at 25 in time for the new term.

It means that a total of 33 schools out of the city's 87 have P1 classes with more than 25 pupils being taught by just one teacher. This compares with two primary schools last year.

The rise came about after high-profile cases in other parts of the country saw parents successfully appeal against decisions to cap classes at 25, which is the current guideline but not law.

Parents in Edinburgh then followed suit and also won appeals to get their children into their preferred schools, driving up class sizes across the city.

The Scottish Government said it would introduce laws to cap class sizes by the start of this school year but it did not introduce the new laws in time and it will be next year before the legislation comes into play.

The result in Edinburgh is that more than 1000 children in 33 city schools are being taught by just one teacher in classes with 26 pupils or more.

A further five schools have introduced "team teaching" - where two classes are based in the one classroom with two teachers. One in five city schools is teaching P1s in class sizes of 30 - the current legal maximum. These include Roseburn, Sciennes and James Gillespie's primaries.

City education leader Marilyne MacLaren said: "Our school placement team correctly predicted that without a legal backstop we would see a significant number of schools with P1 classes of more than 25 pupils. We continue to manage that situation as best we can but what we need is for the government to bring in legislation."

Some schools, however, have managed to keep class sizes low.

In deprived areas, 17 schools given "positive action status" by the council - which include Broomhouse, Dalry and Craigroyston - have made significant progress, with 55 per cent of pupils in P1-3 being taught in classes of up to 18.

Across the 87 primary schools, 13 per cent of children in P1-3 are being taught in classes of 18 or less, which is an improvement on just six per cent the previous year.

Councillor MacLaren added: "I am very pleased to report that the number of pupils in smaller classes has risen this year despite an extra 300 pupils attending at P1-P3 level."