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by Andrew Learmonth
29 March 2021
LibDems call for Primary 1 and 2 to be given over to 'a truly-play based education'

LibDems call for Primary 1 and 2 to be given over to 'a truly-play based education'

SCOTLAND’S children shouldn’t start formal education until they’re seven-year-old, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have said.

In an election pledge announced on Monday, the party said five and six year olds should have a  “truly play-based education” before the start of formal teaching.

LibDem leader Willie Rennie said he wanted this "learning together through play" to be mandatory.

He said: “At the forthcoming election, Scottish Liberal Democrats will ask voters to back us to put the education system first.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will introduce a truly-play based education until age seven to give every child a flying start. By learning together through play children develop the skills needed for trickier tasks and are better prepared to shine in areas like literacy and numeracy.

“The UK is almost unique in Europe in expecting children as young as four or five to begin formal schooling. By the age of nine, pupils in Finland have much higher reading levels than pupils in the UK, having started at the age of seven.”

Rennie also called for the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA) to be dropped.

The tests, brought in by the Scottish Government in 2017, as part of measures to close the attainment gap, have long been controversial.

They’ve have been deeply opposed by teachers and the opposition in Holyrood. 

He added: "In advance of this we would also immediately abolish the national testing of four- and five-year-olds introduced by the SNP and heavily criticised by teachers. Parliament voted to halt them years ago but was ignored.

“The SNP claimed the support of world-leading experts for the controversial policy, only for those same experts to call it a 'perverse misrepresentation' of their work and conclude the tests were 'completely useless'.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will always be the party of education. It’s time for a historical, radical, and positive change to improve our children’s future. Raising the starting age for formal schooling to seven is an important part of our plans to make Scottish education the best again."

Read the most recent article written by Andrew Learmonth - Constituency profile: Glasgow Southside

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