Malcolm on City of Edinburgh Council primary school education policy
Question on City of Edinburgh Council, school closures and class room sizes Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):
I point out to the cabinet secretary that rolls will increase by 20 per cent in the next 10 years.

Is the cabinet secretary concerned that her SNP colleagues in the City of Edinburgh Council administration are openly disregarding her pledge to have class sizes of 18 in primaries 1 to 3 in their proposals for school reorganisation, which will include Fort primary school and Royston primary school in my constituency? Does she agree that the only way of making those poor proposals semi-plausible is to have P1 to P3 classes of more than 30 pupils? Will she take the matter up with her colleagues in the council administration?

Fiona Hyslop (The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning):
I appreciate that Gavin Brown, Malcolm Chisholm and, I am sure, other members want to express their views about what should happen to schools in their constituency. However, I hope that Mr Chisholm will reflect on the fact that because of my relationship with local government I cannot interfere with individual school closures and most certainly not in the proposals that have been set out. The points that have been raised can be - and, indeed, are being - well made by parents and others who are either pursuing reductions in class sizes or defending their local schools.

However, as I say, I cannot take up individual cases. The alternative would be to centralise education and put it completely under the Government's control. If we respect the local authorities' ability to take such decisions, we must give them the space and the time to do so. Given the responsibility that has been put on the City of Edinburgh Council, it should be making efforts to reduce class sizes. As I understand it, it wants to concentrate on areas of deprivation where, as we know, having smaller class sizes gives schools the space and time to raise standards of literacy and numeracy in those who will benefit most.
September 17th 2009 (Column 19742-3)