SCHOOLS are having to cut the number of subjects they offer to pupils as a direct result of cuts, teachers’ leaders have warned.

An education union said current budgetary pressures meant courses such as extra languages and sciences could not run unless at least ten pupils were interested.

The concerns were raised at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s education committee which is examining the roll-out of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) reforms.

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There has been concern CfE is restricting choice because some schools are only offering six subjects in S4 instead of eight in previous years because of timetabling restrictions.

However, Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), said CfE was not restricting choice and pointed the finger at cuts.

He told the committee: “Timetable options are resource-led. You need to have the teachers and you need to have demand.

“The days when schools could run classes for five, six or seven pupils are long gone and a timetabler or headteacher will say that if you haven’t got at least ten picking a subject as an option then it is not even getting looked at.

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“This is to do with budget pressures because schools have got to cut their cloth and those that had flexibility in the past to run an extra science or language course do not have that option on the table now and that is a very real pressure.”

Mr Flanagan also revealed that a committee set up to look at qualifications was considering whether to introduce an external exam for National 4 qualifications.

Numbers sitting the qualification have fallen amidst claims the lack of an external exam has devalued it in the eyes of pupils, parents and employers.

Terry Lanagan, a spokesman for the Association of Directors of Education Scotland, also highlighted the problem of teacher shortages.

He said: “We are in a difficult position with that and certain parts of the country are really struggling to fill posts and that is a challenge for the system.

“That has to do with workforce management and drop-out rates from university courses and teacher education university courses which have to be looked at.”

Meanwhile, the head of Scotland’s national education body said large parts of the 20,000 pages of online advice for teachers on curriculum reforms that has been amassed were necessary.

Bill Maxwell, chief executive of Education Scotland, said much of the guidance was an “appropriate response” at the time it was published.

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The extent of the advice emerged last year amid concerns teachers were overwhelmed with unnecessary and unclear guidance.

Mr Maxwell said: “I would argue much of it was an appropriate response at that point in time when it was requested and served a useful purpose for a period of time and then has a natural time-span.

“I won’t pretend every piece of advice we’ve put out ever has absolutely hit the mark.”

Tavish Scott, education spokesman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said efforts by the CfE management group to reduce workloads were a “dossier of failures”.

The party said the board had discussed workloads on numerous occasions, but failed to take action.