Hundreds of classroom assistants have been axed from Scotland’s schools in recent years, new figures have shown.
And there are now fears that more will be lost as councils face swingeing cuts to their budgets, while having to protect teachers numbers.
The largest drop is in Renfrewshire where numbers have almost halved to 153 since the SNP came to power in 2007, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats. In Aberdeen and Glasgow numbers are down by almost 100.
Lib Dem education spokesman Liam McArthur said: “The drop in numbers is significant, placing additional pressure on teachers at a time when they are already being asked to do more with less.”
Evidence shows that classroom assistants can make a difference in helping deliver high quality education to children, freeing up teachers to focus on making the best use of their time.
Although some councils have increased the number of assistants, overall numbers across Scotland are down by about 300.
But a Scottish Government spokesman branded the figures “partial, incomplete information”, adding that there were 6,063 classroom assistants last year – a 12 per cent increase compared to 2010.