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Angus and Dundee Matters: Tackling teacher number cuts would be a breath of fresh air

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There may have been a bike shed at Letham primary, but it wasn’t a place you’d find young Broon behind.

He was too busy haring around what little grass there was outside the school building in pursuit of kiss, cuddle or torture quarry. Or, on a bad day, running the trouser-ripping British bulldog gauntlet.

Different times, different games, but age of innocence comparisons to today’s generation of Snapchat kids are not a topic to be tackled in the here and now.

It was the actual wee green place of the alma mater which came back to mind with the news that it’s to be pressed into action as an outdoor classroom for the four-year-olds of the biggest village in Angus while the builders are in their nursery.

Free early years provision for Scotland’s pre-schoolers is to double in 2020 and local authorities are in a race to build their own infrastructure and do deals with private providers to make that happen when the nursery bell goes in August.

It’s led to councils thinking out of the box and, in the case of Letham, the actual building.

But the outdoor classroom – complete with fire pit – hasn’t been entirely well received.

Fickle parents worried about the equally changeable climate aren’t convinced by either the concept or the gym hall indoor alternative option if the weather turns really foul.

Almost certainly the latest generation of Lethamites will love it. If they’re really lucky, they’ll get acquainted with a descendant of the resident Robin who happily hopped about the holly bush while we chased girls around it.

I hope it works, and even when the new-look nursery is up and running, the alfresco add-on has proved itself to the extent it remains a permanent fixture.

That’d be a gain, in what, unfortunately is a sector of concerning losses.

Once again in the budget-setting of both Angus and Dundee councils the tough decisions included an impact on education which will involve real cuts to teacher numbers.

The profession has become well used taking a British bulldog-style dunt when it comes to making the council sums add up, but stress-related absence levels continue to demonstrate our frontline educators are finding it harder to dust themselves down from hit after hit.

One might expect a little more reaction to that than the kerfuffle over the idea of kids having to put on an extra layer to stay warm in the fresh air of an outdoor classroom.

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