Class sizes controversy at Grove

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A FERRY councillor is incensed that class sizes in mathematics and English at Grove Academy are to increase from August.

The change will affect first and second year pupils.

Ferry Councillor Laurie Bidwell explained: “In budget papers issued by the city council last week, the education director clarified the five secondary schools in Dundee which will lose their classes of 20 for English and maths in S1 and S2 and unfortunately this list includes Grove Academy.

“From August this year pupil numbers in S1 and S2 maths and English will increase to a maximum of 33. This would represent a 65 per cent increase in class sizes for these subjects.”

He continued: “I think parents and carers in the Ferry, whose children will be in S1 and S2 from this August will want to know how this significant increase in class sizes will affect their child’s learning and attainment.

“They will be aware that confidence and proficiency in English and maths affects a young person’s performance in nearly every other subject areas.

“Significantly, the director of education’s paper to Monday’s education committee meeting, ‘Education Department Standards and Quality’, makes no case for such a change.”

Councillor Bidwell concluded: “I think parents and carers will wonder why this damaging proposal on class size increases at Grove is not to be referred to the education committee when councillors are joined by additional members representing parents, teachers and senior pupils.

“It is hard not to think that the SNP led administration is trying to mask their abandonment of their commitment to smaller class sizes in our schools and don’t think they could win the argument at the education committee”.

Councillor Stewart Hunter, education convener, accused councillor Bidwell of scaremongering.

He responded: “The specific budget proposal that relates to Grove is to give the school flexibility on it’s staffing. The proposal will not necessarily see class sizes of 33. Head teachers will have flexibility to make class sizes around the needs of the pupils.

“I am disappointed that councillor Bidwell continues to scaremonger rather than contribute in a constructive manner. His party had the opportunity to attend the Changing for the Future Board meetings and participate in discussions but chose to shirk their responsibilities instead.”

He went on: “With regards to the proposals itself I note that councillor Bidwell instead of taking the time to try and ascertain all the facts has chosen to exaggerate the effects of this change.

Parents and staff would welcome an end to the falsehoods from the Labour Group.

“As for the budget process we are following the exact process that councillor Bidwell followed when he was convener. If it was good enough for him then it is good enough now. We are confident that the proposals we are implementing will not adversely affect any pupil.”

The convener concluded: “If councillor Bidwell wants to have an honest debate on our proposals it is up to him to apologise for misleading the public and start dealing in the facts.”