Must try harder

From Brian Taylor (BBC)

Good start but must try harder.

That will undoubtedly be the verdict of the opposition parties upon the latest plan for class sizes. Or at least the more polite and restrained among them.

More to the point, it will be Michael Russell’s verdict upon his own scheme. He knows, he knows, that, as it stands, it falls short of the SNP’s manifesto promise.

In summary, the education secretary is proposing to place a lower legal limit on the size of classes in Primary One.

The new limit, at 25, is designed to assist schools in capping class sizes where they face placing requests from parents. It will apply from 2011/12.

In confirming the policy, Mr Russell insisted that the SNP government would continue to pursue the manifesto objective of cutting class sizes to 18 or fewer in P1 to P3.

The contrast between aim and actuality, he said, was driven by “very difficult financial circumstances.”

It remained open to individual councis to strive for the 18 target, deploying the “flexibility” inherent in the government’s revised approach.

Broadly, Mr Russell’s opponents will say to the electorate: “They promised. They failed.”

Broadly, SNP Ministers will say to the electorate: “We promised. We made real progress in difficult circumstances. We will make more progress.”

As ever, their pitch, your choice.

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