Schools in Edinburgh have the worst pupil-teacher ratio in Scotland, official figures show.
According to National Statistics data, the Scottish capital had 15.1 pupils to every teacher across both primary and secondary schools last year. It was the same figure in East Lothian, but all 30 other local authorities had a better ratio.
Glasgow had a ratio of just 13.1 pupils for every teacher, while Dundee’s figure was 13.8 and Aberdeen’s 14.1. The national average last year was 13.6.
Edinburgh Conservative education spokesman Callum Laidlaw said: “These figures show pupils in the capital are being short-changed. It’s completely inexcusable that children in Edinburgh should be taught in busier classrooms than almost anyone else in the country.
“Not only does that negatively impact the education of youngsters, but it places teachers under immense strain too.”
He said pupil-teacher ratios in classrooms had got worse since the SNP came to power in 2007.
Edinburgh’s ratio was 14.9 pupils for every teacher in 2015, while back in 2007 it was just 13.5.
Alison Murphy, Edinburgh secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said poor teacher-pupil ratios contributed to stress, violence and recruitment problems.
She said: “Large class sizes are a massive contributor to the recruitment and retention crisis afflicting schools across Scotland, including Edinburgh. They are also one of the reasons so many teachers are absent with work-related stress or struggling into school when they should be signed off, because they are desperate to support children.
“In large classes, it is much harder to meet the individual needs of each pupil. This contributes to violent assaults, as teachers struggle to support children with Additional Support Needs.
“With larger numbers in classes, it’s also much more difficult to deliver engaging lessons that respond to pupils’ varied interests, take account of their different experiences and genuinely provide support and challenge for all. Yet teachers continue to try to do just that, which is one of the reasons many are working ten-plus hours of unpaid overtime every single week.
“If the Scottish Government, city council and others are serious about closing the attainment gap, reducing teacher workload and addressing the recruitment and retention crisis, then significantly reducing class sizes is one of the most important things they need to do.”
Education convener Councillor Ian Perry said as the fastest growing city in Scotland, Edinburgh faced the challenge of a rising pupil population.
“Despite this we continue to meet Scottish Government requirements for pupil-teacher ratios and have kept P1 classes to a maximum of 25 pupils,” he said. “Every year we are investing millions in building additional classrooms and new schools. Our successful teacher recruitment campaign last year resulted in over 500 applications.”