Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP today said the SNP's class size commitments are "in tatters" after new statistics showed that they remain at their highest rate since the SNP took office.
The annual school census reveals that the average class size this year is 23.5. The SNP also promised that P1-P3 pupils would have class sizes of 18 or less but this is being achieved for just 12.2% of children - again, the poorest performance since they came to office a decade ago.
Curriculum for Excellence achievement statistics also published today confirmed that the gap between pupils from the most and least deprived areas widens as they progress through school. The gap in writing is as wide as 22% by the time that they reach primary 7, with just 59% of pupils from the most deprived area reaching the expected level.
Mr Scott commented:
"The SNP's class size policy lies in tatters. Smaller classes matter because they help pupils learn and give teachers more contact time with those children who need extra help. Increasing class sizes only make it harder to close the attainment gap.
"Today’s figures show that after a decade in power the SNP Government has comprehensively failed to deliver on its commitment of smaller class sizes, particularly for our youngest pupils.
"Liberal Democrats also recently revealed that the number of children being taught in super-size classes has soared in recent years, with 20,000 more children taught in classes of 30 or above compared to five years ago.
"Teachers are our schools' most important asset but their workloads are up and there remain hundreds of vacancies.
"Instead of constant and unwelcome ministerial meddling, the Scottish Government needs to give frontline professionals the support they are crying out for. This starts with a £500 million additional investment in Scottish education and commissioning McCrone 2 - an independent root and branch review of teachers' terms and conditions and the demands placed upon them."