Concordat commitments on class sizes, free school meals and pre-school expansion
Both partners reiterate their support for the partnership working and aspirations contained within the Concordat, including continued commitment to the Early Years framework and Curriculum for Excellence. This agreement does not the dilute the aspirations set out in the Concordat and reflects a pragmatic response to changed financial circumstances.
It is in the interests of both partners to secure the delivery of these agreed commitments. To ensure that they remain on track, both partners agree on the importance of establishing appropriate and robust mechanisms and milestones.
The Scottish Government and COSLA Group Leaders agree that, by August 2010, the percentage of P1-P3 children educated in classes of 18 or less will increase to at least 20 per cent. Both parties recognise that where two teachers work simultaneously with a class of not more than 36 pupils (team teaching) this is regarded as two classes of not more than 18 pupils. It is for the local authority to decide whether this is educationally suitable.
Directors of Education have advised that the delivery of class size reductions can be appropriately assessed and reported at three stages during the year (including the official statistics): July, September and November. Local Authorities and COSLA will report on progress towards the 20 per cent target at each of these stages.
Free School Meals (FSMs)
By August 2010, Councils will provide a nutritious free meal to all children in primaries P1-P3 in those schools that are in the 20 per cent most deprived communities in a Council area, although some Councils may implement an alternative targeting scheme of equal extent. In addition, Councils will continue to work to promote increased uptake of FSMs.
The Scottish Government and COSLA agree that a nutritious free meal can be breakfast, brunch or lunch, provided that meal meets relevant nutritional standards. In schools that provide a free breakfast or brunch, children who are entitled to a free lunch on the basis of the benefits received by their family will still be entitled to that lunch.
Councils will continue to expand pre-school provision for three and four year olds in line with the Concordat commitment and affirm their commitment to the Early Years framework. They will continue to provide free pre-school education and, from August 2010, will offer all three year olds the opportunity to start preschool provision the month following their third birthday or as soon as is practicable. Planned legislation to require local authorities to expand pre-school provision from 475 hours to 570 hours from August 2010 has been delayed.