More pressure for P1 tests to be axed by government

Scottish Labour is lodging a parliamentary motion calling for controversial primary school tests to be scrapped.

Monday, 10th September 2018, 8:58 am
Updated Monday, 10th September 2018, 9:15 am
There's been more pressure to axe P1 tests
There's been more pressure to axe P1 tests

Education Secretary John Swinney has said he remains committed to the Scottish national standardised assessments at all levels despite cross-party opposition and calls to “cut his losses” on the issue.

Last week Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie wrote to other party leaders urging them to join a bid to force a vote on the controversial tests “as soon as possible”.

Labour’s Iain Gray is now to table a motion at Holyrood calling for standardised national testing from primary one pupils to be scrapped.

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It comes after feedback from teachers claimed some P1 pupils had been left shaking, crying and distressed by “unnecessary and cruel” tests.

The text of the motion briefly reads: “That the parliament believes that standardised assessments for primary 1 pupils should be scrapped.”

Mr Gray said: “These tests are a shambles, and the SNP’s refusal to listen to the mounting evidence against them is bordering on farcical.

“Yet again John Swinney is refusing to listen to teachers and parents. These tests are driving children to tears, waste vital classroom time and provide no help to close the attainment gap.

“Labour will continue to work to build cross-party and non-party opposition to these tests. That is why I have lodged a motion at Holyrood this week calling from the tests to be scrapped for primary ones. The SNP could have ditched these tests in the Programme for Government last week, if education really is the government’s top priority, ministers should listen to the sheer number of voices telling them these tests have to go.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Standardised assessments are delivered as part of everyday learning and provide consistent evidence for teachers to identify the next steps in a child’s learning, which is especially valuable in the early years if we are to continue to close the attainment gap.

“Our review of the first year of operation found that many teachers were pleased with the information provided, while the average Primary 1 assessment took less than half an hour in the year.

“Enhancements and improvements this year will provide a better experience for younger pupils and extra reassurance to teachers and parents.”

Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott said: “Opposition parties are united in their belief that tests of 4 and 5 year old girls and boys in Primary One is utterly ineffectual. A vote to scrap these tests is now just a matter of time. Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith added: “John Swinney’s cack-handed approach to this row threatens to undermine the work that is needed to raise standards in primary schools.”