Parents' anger at composite class increase
PARENTS in East Linton have vowed to continue fighting against an increase in the number of composite classes at the village's primary school next term.
From August, every year group at East Linton will have composite classes - where pupils from more than one year group are taught together - except for one P1 class.
Next term's classes will consist of P1, P1/P2, P2/P3, P3/4, P4/P5, P5/P6, and P6/P7. According to the school's website, last term there were four composite classes - P1/P2, P2/P3, P3/P4 and P4/P5.
East Lothian Council guidelines state that no single-age class should be greater than 25 pupils in P1; 30 in P2 and P3; 33 in P4 to P7; and no bigger than 25 in composite classes. A P1 intake of 26 arrives when the new school term begins next month, leading to the creation of further composite classes at the school.
About 20 parents put their concerns to ward councillors Norman Hampshire and Paul McLennan last week, before parent council members met education officials on Tuesday.
Parent Gillian Dignan had written to Don Ledingham, executive director of services for people at ELC, saying: "Over the last four years, composition of classes have pulled children back and forth within the school.
"Always the answer from our headmistress [Jill Wareham, who has now left] was that spaces have to be allocated in each class for any children moving into the area between the end of term in June and the start of the new term in August.
"Due to this policy we are experiencing a composite P6/7. I strongly feel that this decision is a mistake. What effect will it have on the P6 children? Where will they go when the P7s are on cluster transition activities?"
In his response letter, Mr Ledingham said: "When the number of classes in a school has been agreed in line with the legislation and budgetary policies, there may be some flexibility about how and where classes are restructured.
"At that point, it is the headteacher of the individual school who makes the decision about the final class structure, taking into account the needs of all the children in the school."
Mr Ledingham said there was "no reason for the quality of education to be affected by a composite class".
He added: "Overall, I am satisfied that the school has acted within the policies laid out nationally and within East Lothian Council."
Lisa Ferrara, East Linton Parent Council's P6 rep, said Tuesday's meeting had been "disappointing", but she added: "We as a group have done a lot of investigation and even [the council's] own policies contradict each other. I think there are loopholes that we could look into, so we are still going to push on."
Jenny Paterson, parent council chair, said: "There is concern and distress amongst some parents in relation to the composition of classes for 2012/13, the decision-making process behind those class lists, and the subsequent disruption to our children."
Norman Hampshire (Labour) said: "I'd like to have been able to reduce the number of composite classes within the school, but currently within the budget that's been set for this year... we don't have the resources to do that."
Paul McLennan (SNP) said parents would be contacted in the coming weeks, and a meeting secured with the school's new acting headteacher, Morag Wallace, as soon as possible.
He added: "I think the biggest problem was communication. The parents only found out a few days before [the end of term] that this was going to happen."
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Jul 14, 10:46
nothing wrong with composite classes
education is all down to good teachers.
my son was in a number of composite classes
had the same worrys
and never thought in a million years that he would going to Uni
Recommend? Yes 2 No 0
Jul 16, 14:13
My Wee grand Daughter was in a composite class and she is going to Preston Lodge this year her learning never suffered and we very proud of her final report card have to say i was not a fan of them to begin with but have to agree that it's down to good teacher's which we are lucky to have in our school's in East Lothian.
Recommend? Yes 0 No 2
Jul 18, 13:47
Mike if something is a plural - ie more than one it has a s at the end of the word but no comma. So it's teachers and schools and not teacher's and school's. Seemples! If in doubt ask your granddaughter.
Recommend? Yes 2 No 0
Jul 18, 21:16
I really think these parents are worrying far too much about composite classes. Kids adapt very easily. It is the parents who find it difficult. There is no such thing as 'P6' work or 'P7' work. Children work at the level appropriate to them. Why do kids need to stay in the same class with the same children for seven years? Being able to adapt to new situations and new people is good for them. Three of my children have been in composite classes and the fourth is likely to be in one before she leaves primary school. They have made new friends and adapted well and continued playing with friends not in their class but in their year, at playtime and after school. I'm sure the P6s will cope when the P7s are at transition events. That really isn't a reason not to have a composite class.
Recommend? Yes 1 No 0
Jul 21, 00:28
Too many people with too much time to moan and who have absolutely no idea of the financial constraints on education! If your child wants to do well, if they are encouraged at school and home they will be fine!
Recommend? Yes 0 No 0