Renewed call to decrease composite class sizes in rural schools

Parents of rural schools across the region have renewed calls for Dumfries and Galloway Council to reverse its decision to increase the number of pupils in a 'composite class' from 19 to 25.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 1:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 1:26 pm
Dumfries and Galloway Council made the decision two years ago, but the situation at Nethermill School near Dumfries has reignited campaigning

While in larger schools a composite class may normally be made up of two year groups in rural schools this can lead to a single teacher being responsible for educating children aged 4-12.

While the decision was made two years ago, the parent council at Nethermill Primary near Dumfries has reinvigorated the campaign as the school has a projected roll of 26 for next term and fears losing one child will mean losing one of its two teachers.

The Nethermill parent council organised an online survey to get the views of from across the region. Parents with children at 21 schools took part including Leswalt, Sandhead, Kirkholm, Palnackie, Borgue, Kirkcowan, Kirkbean, Colvend, Portpatrick and Cargenbridge.

The survey found 98 per cent of parents who responded believed one teacher having responsibility for the education of up to 25 pupils across P1-7 would have a negative impact on their child’s development and education and 81 per cent would considering leaving the school if this happened.

A survey was also sent out to staff to respond to anonymously, with more than 90 per cent agreeing this would be detrimental to pupil’s education and development and that they would consider leaving their post if this happened in their school.

A joint parent councils Zoom meeting took place on Wednesday to put the results of the survey to representatives of the council’s Education Department.