In Full

Politics in Full

Tommy Sheppard: Why don’t our schools get the Fringe benefits?

How’s your festival going? Are you thrilled to bits at the world’s largest arts festival being on your doorstep? Are you overdosing on culture in one of the 200-plus festival venues? Or do you spend ­August grimacing as it takes twice as long to get anywhere and the city centre is taken over by hordes of impossibly ­enthusiastic young people.

Teachers and parents say many P1 pupils get upset at having to sit tests deemed necessary by the Scottish Govenment.

Calls to ban Scotland’s P1 testing as pressure builds on Government

A children’s charity has been “flooded” with calls from parents wanting to take part in its “postcard” campaign letting headteachers know they do not want their child to sit controversial P1 tests.

Upstart Scotland, the children’s education charity, launched the Scotland-wide joint campaign at the start of the new school year, with the support and backing of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union and a host of other children’s charities.

Around 30,000 postcards have been sent to key allies for dispersal. An email version is also available on the charity’s Play Not Tests website.

The aim is to encourage parents to withdraw their youngsters from the literacy and numeracy assessments launched last year by the Scottish Government.

The postcard states: I do not want my sit the Primary 1 SNSA tests of literacy or numeracy. I firmly believe that national

standardised assessment of this kind is not developmentally appropriated for young children and would, therefore, prefer assessment to be based on teacher observation and professional judgement, in accordance with the Early Level of the Curriculum for Excellence.”

Sue Palmer, the charity’s chairwoman and a former headteacher, said they had been inundated with calls and emails from parents.

“It shows the strength of feeling out there that parents are deciding to take action. No-one has been listening to those who work with very small children, especially nursery teachers, but they are the ones with the specialist knowledge of children’s ability.”

Last week teachers said many young children had been left distressed coping with the pressures of the tests.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: “We are sceptical about the worth of standardised assessments generally, but we’re particularly opposed to their introduction for P1 pupils.

“They bring a rigid formality to assessment at a stage where the judgements of teachers, based on observation of child-centred learning, are all that’s needed.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, MSP, whose party highlighted that the government had not publicised the right of parents to withdraw their children from the tests, said: “This campaign is the product of an unprecedented effort on the part of campaigners, parents and teachers to bring these damaging national tests to an end.

“It should never have been left to others to tell parents their rights and how to exercise them.

“However, the Scottish Government have studiously avoided telling parents whether and how their children could be withdrawn from these tests so it is important that we get this information out there.

“Teachers across the country have been warning that national tests for P1s are a waste of their time and energy and useless in assessing a child’s level.

“How many teachers and parents have to boycott these tests before the Education Secretary finally listens?”

Private school pupils are much more likely to appeal their exam results after the Scottish Government introduced a fee

Kezia Dugdale: Fees for exam appeals are unfair on poorest pupils

I’ve always supported removing the tax breaks that private schools benefit from by classifying themselves as charities. I was once warned that being quite so forthright in my opposition wasn’t particularly smart in a city like Edinburgh where nearly 25 per cent of secondary school-age children go to fee-paying enterprises, but nevertheless I persisted.


Helen Martin: English pose biggest threat to the Union

ANY agreement about anything between Scotland and the UK seems about as far-fetched as a perfect Brexit. It’s as if the Auld Enemy relationship hasn’t changed since the 13th to 16th century, despite the establishment of devolution and Theresa May’s reference to her “precious Union”.

Load more
Get daily updates Sign Up X