SNP u-turn on class sizes

The SNP have announced they are not going to implement their manifesto pledge to reduce primary school class sizes to 18; they will aim for 25 instead.

Scotland’s Education Secretary, Fiona Hsylop, this week performed what amounts to a manifesto u-turn. Having promised Scotland class sizes in primary school of no more than 18 in their manifesto, the SNP government today announced that the limit, enshrined in legislation, would instead be 25.

Speaking on yesterday’s “Good Morning Scotland” on BBC Radio Scotland, Ms Hyslop refused to say whether the manifesto commitment (p.52) would be met, adding (5:03):

“What we are doing is providing the legislation to support smaller class sizes, because we think that local pupils going to local schools should benefit from local smaller class sizes.”

Listen to the interview in full below and download it here:

Reacting to the apparent retreat, Labour’s Education Spokeswoman, Rhona Brakin said:

“Again and again ministers have been asked to come clean on class sizes and again and again they refuse to answer. They simply can’t be trusted on education.”

However, the most scathing criticism came from Conservative Shadow Minister for Children, Schools & Skills Liz Smith. She said:

“The SNP has misled parents and, as with the pledge to dump student debt, was only interested in conning the electorate. Regardless of whether or not this much needed U-turn is carried out, Alex Salmond and Fiona Hyslop should be ashamed of themselves.”

Last week Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson announced the cancellation of the Glasgow rail link, a decision that blocks the creation of many jobs at a time when they are badly needed. Now, the same Government appear to have performed a u-turn, failing to fulfil their manifesto pledge to the people of Scotland.

It is clear that despite his rhetoric, Alex Salmond is learning the hard way what governing is really about. It remains to be seen how the Scottish people will react to the SNP now it is under pressure and taking unpopular decisions on spending and public services. Scotland looks set to be an interesting battlefield in next year’s election.

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