In response to the national debate on education, we indicated that we would
Does the minister acknowledge that the size of classes is not the sole factor in determining educational achievement in our schools? In my constituency, the schools with the biggest classes are often those that are highest achieving. Given the minister's commitment to addressing the central issue of inequality in education, will she support initiatives such as the nurture initiative in my constituency, which allows for intensive and close support for some of our most vulnerable children whose broader social needs have to be addressed so that they can access education?
I take on board the point that Johann Lamont has raised. Of course class sizes are important, but we also need to ensure that resources and support are provided so that we can close the opportunity gap. Many schools have used their resources creatively and have worked hard to overcome the barriers that exist for disadvantaged pupils. I always welcome examples of good practice and like to see it spreading throughout Scotland.
I refer the member to the answer that I gave to Mr Russell. We will not make proposals that are not properly costed. We will make proposals that stand up to scrutiny and we will deliver in the same way as we have delivered on reducing class sizes for the first three years of primary education.
Further to Tommy Sheridan's question, is the minister aware that, when class sizes were reduced to 20 in California, the results included many classrooms with 40 or more children and two teachers, patchy attainment and the hiring of
Teaching quality is very important and I am aware of the research to which Mr Monteith refers. It showed that, in some areas, there were advantages in reducing class sizes, particularly for the kind of pupils that Johann Lamont referred to. However, it also highlighted some of the dangers. We have to ensure that we do not fall into the trap of doing the wrong thing in an attempt to raise standards. That is why we will make proposals for those critical stages where we know that there are problems. We will focus on maths and English because we are committed to raising standards of literacy and numeracy. I am sure that Mr Monteith in his very fetching tie will agree with that.