We’re fighting to save rural schools in Dumfries and Galloway.
This February, Dumfries and Galloway Council voted to increase the number of pupils in a ‘composite class’ – or, in other words, a single teacher primary school – from 19 to 25.
While this number is within the guidelines set by the Scottish Government, it has been taken to its legal limit. When applied to the rural primary school setting, the impact is huge.
One teacher will be in sole charge of a whole school composite class, with 25 pupils ranging in age from 4 – 12, encompassing multi-level teaching and varying support needs.
It is apparent that the practicalities of leaving one member of staff in charge of an entire school will not be safe or practical – or, indeed, able to provide a satisfactory level of learning for children in the region. Intentional or not, this decision will clearly set smaller schools up to fail.
The decision is unprecedented in Scotland and has been described by the EIS as ‘closure by the back door’. It has led to the resignation of experienced council members and has been rejected by local councillors and MSPs, as well as hundreds of parents and local citizens, who have sent upwards of a thousand emails condemning the decision. And it makes Dumfries and Galloway the only region in Scotland to enforce this decision.
We call on Dumfries and Galloway Council to reverse the damaging decision to cut teachers in smaller schools. By increasing composite class sizes to 25 pupils in our primary schools they are putting our young people and teachers in danger. It is unfair and wrong to leave a single teacher with sole responsibility for up to 25 pupils aged from 4-12.