Fife to scrap controversial P1 tests

Written by Gemma Fraser on 14 December 2018 in News

Fife Council has been warned about returning to its previous assessment system after saying it will scrap national testing

Image credit: Scottish Government

One of Scotland's largest councils has voted to scrap controversial testing for primary one pupils.

Fife Council said it would discontinue the scheme – which has been heavily criticised by teachers, unions and opposition politicians - after the end of this school year.

It is understood the council will revert to its previous system of assessment for P1s but continue to use standardised tests in P4, P7 and secondary schools.

MSPS voted earlier this year to halt the P1 assessments following widespread criticism and concerns.

Education Secretary John Swinney – who firmly believes in Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs) – commissioned an independent review of P1 tests.

Responding to news that Fife will scrap SNSAs for P1s, Swinney said: "If Fife Council were to revert to their previous systems, P1 pupils would face two assessments per year, rather than the single assessment they currently undertake.

"It is difficult to see how this would address the concerns raised around workload and pupil experience.

"It is, in fact, the precise opposite of what they claim they are trying to achieve and would cost taxpayers more money to double the tests P1 pupils face. That makes little sense."

The EIS teaching union, which has spoken out against the standardised P1 tests, also raised concerns about Fife returning to the previous system.

A spokesman said: "If the council is serious about ensuring that all assessment genuinely supports learning and is committed to relieving the pressure that standardised assessment places on pupils, they should not be replacing SNSAs with a model that is potentially more damaging."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie has encouraged more councils to follow’s Fife’s lead.

He said: “Two months on from the Scottish Parliament’s vote to end the SNP’s national tests for P1s, and in the face of criticism from campaigners, teachers, parents and the EIS union, the Education Secretary continues to stubbornly plod on.

“It is now up to councils to see sense. Fife Council have done the right thing today. Teachers say national testing of five year olds wastes valuable class time and doesn’t tell them anything they do not already know. There is no logical, justifiable or democratic basis for it to continue.

“I hope that the other councils which have also been exploring putting a stop to this doomed policy will take heart from this vote.”

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