School left with one class and single teacher after cuts

Slains School, in Collieston, had 24 split between two classrooms.

Slains Primary School to be left with one teacher and one class amid discrimination claims Slains School

Parents have claimed discrimination as the number of classrooms at a rural Aberdeenshire primary school is set to be halved.

Slains School, in Collieston, has 24 pupils who have so far been dispersed into two classrooms, lead by two teachers – the headteacher, and a full-time equivalent teacher.

However, after a decision by the council to downsize staffing across primary schools seemingly spurred on by a lack of staff in secondary schools, Slains will run with one classroom lead by the headteacher during the next school session.

The chairperson for the school’s parent council, Fiona Bell, said the group “actively disagree with the policy and its discrimination against pupils in small rural schools”.

She added that, despite this, the group also understands that a policy change “is not viable” in the period before summer holidays begin – but believes that Slains may be an exception.

Ms Bell argued the school’s roll of 24 puts it “on the cusp” of the nationwide child maximum, and the “absolute limit of what is deemed manageable by one teacher”.

Citing a previous negative assessment of the school by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE), she added that the move to halve school staff was “inconceivable”.

The assessment, carried out in 2022, found the level of education provided to be “weak” in three out of four criteria – leadership of change; learning, teaching and assessment; and raising attainment and achievement.

Ms Bell said: “In the light of these findings and the report as a whole, coupled with its repeated calls on the council to provide support to the school, it seems inconceivable that the council can consider reducing the number of staff and classes as an appropriate course of action.”

Aberdeenshire Council said it had revised its formula for teachers in classrooms in March – as noted in a report to its Education and Children’s Services Committee on March 23.

The formula, which used to allocate two teachers and above to schools with more than 20 pupils, has been revised to now allow the same number of teachers for schools with more than 26 pupils.

A spokesperson for the council said: “We appreciate changes to class structure and configuration can cause anxiety and concern.

“This is something we are fully aware of and all necessary planning and preparation is being progressed by the school and staffing team.

“We recently reviewed the staffing formula which allocates teaching staff to primary schools.

“This resulted in changes to the number of classes allocated to some schools across Aberdeenshire, whilst working in line with nationally agreed maximum class sizes.”

They added: “The headteacher, as an experienced school leader, will determine how to deploy his staffing allocation to deliver learning and teaching, meeting the needs of all learners and to progress the school’s improvement.”

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