Willie Rennie: P1 testing a 'monumental waste of time'

Written by Gemma Fraser on 3 September 2018 in News

The Lib Dem leader urges fellow opposition leaders to back his call to scrap national testing

Image credit: Holyrood

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie has called on fellow opposition party leaders to back his plea to scrap national testing for P1 pupils.

Rennie has written to Ruth Davidson, Richard Leonard and Patrick Harvie urging them to use the “first available opportunity to scrap national testing for primary one children”.

In his letter, Rennie said: “The schools are back and I believe that it is essential that parliament intervene immediately to guarantee that no child starting school this August should have to be put through these tests.

“P1 classes, and the support and resources available throughout schools, must not suffer the same disruption that they did last year.”

Rennie’s call comes after teachers claimed some P1 pupils had been left crying and distressed by “unnecessary and cruel” tests.

The claims  were revealed as part of feedback submitted to ministers by the Educational Institute of Scotland.

After a Scottish Government review of the Scottish national standardised assessments (SNSA) was carried out last week, Education Secretary John Swinney announced changes to the tests.

He said he had listened to feedback and had agreed “enhancements” to the assessments in order to “provide extra reassurance”.

But Rennie described the review as a “whitewash”.

He said: "Teachers were horrified that ministers dismissed the feedback that they had been bombarded with.

“They opted to retain the tests for P1s despite overwhelming evidence from across the country that they are a monumental waste of time and resources, counterproductive and useless in assessing a child's level.

"Parents considering withdrawing their children were told by ministers to get back in line, only to discover this week that the legal advice the Scottish Government used to do this didn't actually exist.

"The SNP can't escape the parliamentary maths. They can't point to having the support of any other MSP for their policy of national tests for P1 pupils.

"The schools are already back and Parliament will follow them this week.

“There is no time to lose and that is why I have today invited the other opposition leaders to agree to use the first available opportunity to scrap national testing for P1 pupils.

“Parliament must put a stop to this shambles."

Swinney said: "Standardised assessments 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 found that children generally rated the assessments as accessible and stimulating, while teachers were pleased with the information provided by the assessments.

“I have listened to the range of feedback and changes this year should further improve the experience for learners and provide extra reassurance to teachers and parents.

"The assessments should be delivered as part of everyday learning and teaching.

“These are not 'high stakes' assessments - there is no pass or fail and there is no time limit.”

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