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**Scottish Secondary Schools Facing Issues with Overcrowding, Gilruth Warns**

Some Scottish secondary schools are considered “overly large,” leading to students feeling “disconnected,” as stated by education secretary Jenny Gilruth.

During a session with MSPs, Gilruth highlighted that the size of certain Scottish high schools hinders teachers from establishing meaningful connections with students. She emphasized that these connections play a vital role in enhancing behavior, academic performance, and addressing students’ additional support requirements.

Gilruth also raised concerns about the drawbacks of open-plan classrooms, suggesting that such setups could pose challenges for learning and addressing additional support needs, ultimately making it hard for some students to maintain focus.

Expressing her views, Gilruth mentioned, “I believe there are certain schools in Scotland that are excessively large. They may not be conducive for students with additional support needs, and in general, they might impede the interaction between teachers and students in large school settings.”

She further noted the prevalence of large schools in Fife, her constituency, where students from various small towns and villages converge in a massive secondary school. In such environments, she observed that students could feel lost due to the lack of personalized attention.

Gilruth stressed the significance of fostering relationships between teachers and students, attributing challenges related to behavior and academic performance to the quality of these connections. She suggested the need for expert advice on school design to address these issues effectively.

These discussions took place as part of Gilruth’s testimony to the Scottish Parliament’s Education, Children, and Young People Committee, which is currently examining [ppp1].

Recent hearings by the committee have scrutinized the impact of open-plan classrooms, criticized for their potential effects on students with additional support needs, especially those with autism, who may struggle to [ppp2].

While acknowledging the substantial funding allocated by the government to councils for enhancing school facilities, Gilruth emphasized that the responsibility for school design lies with the local authorities.

In response to queries about government guidelines on school building design, Gilruth indicated that the government offers guidance to councils in this regard.

Laura Meikle, head of the government’s support and wellbeing unit, highlighted the importance of considering accessibility in the design of new school buildings. She suggested the need for updated statutory guidance emphasizing the significance of creating conducive learning environments.

Meikle affirmed, “There is room for improvement in this area, and we are committed to enhancing our efforts.”

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