Does size matter?
For pity’s sake, calm down. At Holyrood today, the wicked media (self included) have been assailed by a torrent of claim and counter-claim with regard to class sizes.
It started with an assertion from SNP Ministers that the previous lot (Lab/LibDem) weren’t much use when it came to delivering on education promises.
(Actually, it probably started when the very first political spin-doctor emerged, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms. Not an insult, by the way, but a quote from Shakespeare. Mars Bar to the first one who can name the play.)
Anyway, back to classes. Today’s row then escalated when Labour and the LibDems hurled insults back in turn. (Real insults: not literary quotes.)
Instead of dealing with the new figures, the statements from Labour and the LibDems dealt almost exclusively with accusations (probably justified, at least in part) that SNP Ministers were seeking to divert attention from their own little local difficulties over pupil numbers.
The substance? The Lab/Lib Executive said it would cut class sizes in Maths and English in the first two years of secondary to 20 or fewer.
How have they done? Progress – but not by any means complete success. The vast bulk of secondaries have got these classes below 20 on average. But only 64 schools managed the feat entirely, for all classes.
The pledge was recalibrated (ie changed) midterm so that success on average was to be regarded as triumph.
To the SNP, one might say that this was not entirely a brilliant strategy. The previous Exec’s figures aren’t bad enough to justify restoking scrutiny of the present Government’s plans to trim class sizes in P1 and P2.
(Hint: instead of waiting for midterm, they’re announcing in advance they intend to be “flexible.” Take your cue from glasshouses and stones.)
To Labour and the LibDems, one might say: desist, cease, dilute the rhetoric. Ca’ canny. There isn’t a Holyrood election for four years. Doesn’t look like there will be a UK General Election for two years. Calm down.
The Mars Bar has been claimed – and by a spin doctor! You’ll recall that I deployed a quote from Shakespeare in an earlier blog - and was rash enough to offer confectionery to the individual who identified the play involved.
Tony McElroy of the Labour Party correctly identified that the phrase “mewling and puking” comes from the Seven Ages soliloquy in “As You Like It”. Yes, the one that begins “all the world’s a stage.”
Nice to know that there is at least one individual in the Labour team who is accustomed to polite language.
I shall, of course, deliver said Mars Bar within the lifetime of the present Parliament, as economic circumstances permit. However, you must understand that the financial constraints placed upon this blog by the Treasury mean that tough choices must be made.