Deputy education minister Nicol Stephen said:
'The 2001 school census shows that we are delivering on the commitment made in 1999 - to reduce primary 1 to 3 class sizes to 30 or below by August 2001.
'In 1998 there were 921 P1 to P3 classes with over 30 pupils that did not meet our class size commitment. This figure had fallen to 27 by September last year. And since the census was taken, the number of classes not meeting the regulations has fallen further.
'We will be taking action to address this small number of cases, but I believe that most parents will consider that we have delivered on our pledge. We have succeeded in relation to over 99% of P1 to P3 classes.
'By reducing class sizes, early intervention, and a classroom assistants programme which leaves teachers free to teach, we are creating a solid framework for learning in our schools.'
The Summary Results of the September 2001 School Census were published today. Provisional figures on progress in reducing class sizes were made available during a Parliamentary debate on 7 February 2002.
Regulations made in April 1999 require all P1-P3 pupils to be taught in classes with a teacher:pupil ratio of 1:30 or less by August 2001. The regulations took a step by step approach so that all P1 pupils had to meet the target by August 1999, P1 and P2 pupils by August 2000 and P1-P3 pupils by August 2001.
Since 1999, resources totalling just over£47 million from the Excellence Fund have been allocated to local authorities to assist them implement a class size maximum of 30 pupils in all P1 to P3 classes.
The Education (Lower Primary Class Sizes) (Scotland) Regulations 1999 allow classes over 30 as long as a teacher:pupil ratio of 1:30 is maintained for ordinary teaching sessions. They also allow certain 'excepted pupils' to be excluded from the count. Excepted pupils are:
a. children whose record of special educational needs specify that they should be educated at the school concerned, and who are placed in a school outside a normal placing round;
b. children initially refused a place at a school, but subsequently on appeal offered a place outside a normal placing round or because the education authority recognise that an error was made in implementing their placing arrangements for the school;
c. children who cannot gain a place at any other suitable school within a reasonable distance of their home because they move into an area outside a normal placing round;
d. children who are pupils at special schools, but who receive part of their education at a mainstream school; and
e. children with special educational needs who are normally educated in a special unit in a mainstream school, but who receive part of their education in a non-special class.
Children in categories a to c will be treated as 'excepted pupils' only during the school year in which they are first placed in a school.