Councillors agree to investigate impact of P1 assessments

Education convener Cllr Ian Perry. Picture: TSPL
Education convener Cllr Ian Perry. Picture: TSPL
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EDINBURGH will investigate how P1 standardised assessments are impacting on schools after rejecting a motion to examine the “suspension of testing”.

The heated debate at yesterday’s full council meeting came as Education Secretary John Swinney announced that an “independent, evidence-led review” will be carried out into the tests.

Conservatives failed to win support for officers to bring forward options for “the suspension of testing”.

The Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs) take place for P1, P4, P7 and S3 pupils. Education authorities in Aberdeen and East Lothian have publicly spoken out against the P1 
assessments.

The move follows a vote in the Scottish Parliament last month which called for the P1 assessments to be stopped.

Councillors agreed for a report to be drawn up on the status of the Scottish Parliament vote and look at how P1 assessments are being implemented across schools in Edinburgh – how that related to “the wider range of assessments in P1 learning” and Scottish Government guidance.

Education convener Cllr Ian Perry said that the “Scottish Parliament’s wishes should not be ignored” and confirmed that the tests could still be banned following an investigation by officers.

He said: “We are all asking officials to report back on a status of the motion in parliament to ban testing.

“We have also asked that officials report back on assessments that are carried out in P1 in primary schools.

“When they report back, that’s when we will decide if P1 assessments in Edinburgh will be banned.

“If the officials find a way to implement the Scottish 
Parliament motion, we will be supporting the P1 ban.

“I personally support the ban because I believe it’s the right thing to do and it’s wrong to test in P1.”

Conservatives called for the council to be “fully informed” about all options available.

Conservative education spokesman Cllr Callum Laidlaw said: “As a council, we need to be reflecting the will of the Scottish Parliament, the will of parents and pupils.

“We as a local authority should be listening to teachers in our schools – we should be looking at the options we have on the table. We must accept that this is not working. This is about politicians listening to others.”

But Green councillors hit out at the the Conservatives, who backed the standardised tests in their 2016 election manifesto. The Greens called for an investigation into suspending “all standardised national testing in primary schools”.

Green Cllr Gavin Corbett accused the Tories of “treating schools like a political football”.

He said: “I fear that their late conversion to the problems of uniform national testing has nothing to do with the best interests of children and everything to do with treating schools as a political football.

“So the Green proposal to council held true to our consistent policy position. Crucially, it recognised how important is detailed, meaningful and tailored feedback to young people and families, based on high quality assessment of the learning progress.

“But it also said that, in our primary schools, it is best done by trained front-line teachers, child by child, and not using a uniform standard national test drawn up by a bureaucrat miles away from the classroom.”