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Teaching chief reveals ‘explosion’ in multi-level classes

There has been an “explosion” in cases of children being taught in the same classroom – despite being different ages and studying different courses.

Larry Flanagan, the general secretary of the EIS, told MSPs today the problem was becoming “one of the single biggest complaints” from teachers.

Multi-level classes are where youngsters are taught in the same room, but are of a different age-group and studying for different qualifications.

Shadow education secretary Liz Smith said it was the latest evidence of the SNP’s teacher staffing crisis.

Only yesterday, the Scottish Conservatives revealed two-thirds of teachers blame staffing on the fact pupils are unable to study the breadth of subjects they want.

And at today’s Education Committee in Holyrood, Mr Flanagan said: “If I was to cite one of the single-biggest complaints that we’ve had from members around the senior phase, it’s been the explosion in multi-level classes with all the attendant problems that brings. A lot of it workload but a lot of it surrounding manageability of the class and the fact that, by and large, it is a poor experience for all of the students in the classroom.”

His concerns were backed up by the president of the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers Marjorie Kerr, who said: “We find particularly that our National 5 pupils are definitely disadvantaged if they end up in a Higher class because the courses do not match up.”

Expressing her concerns, Tess Watson, of the Association for Science Education, said multi-level classes was like “spinning two plates at one time”, adding: “I don’t know how you deal with that other than recruit more teachers.”

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said:

“When it comes to exam qualifications, parents want to know their children will be taught in classes where their peers are studying the same coursework.

“Of course there are exceptions where this will be unavoidable.

“But the fact there’s been an ‘explosion’ of this across the country suggests there are major problems in staffing and recruitment.

“The SNP has full control over education, and has done for more than a decade.

“This unacceptable position is entirely its responsibility.”




Notes to editors:


Today’s evidence from the Education Committee can be watched here:

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