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Standardised tests will continue for P1 children, but under revised guidance

Primary testing - creative commons

Standardised tests will continue for P1 children, but under revised guidance

Standardised testing for five year-olds will continue despite calls for it to be scrapped, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has announced changes to the controversial tests at all levels, including a re-wording of the questions for primary one pupils “to ensure a more familiar context”.

The changes come after criticism of the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA) system from teaching unions, educationalists and Swinney’s own council of international advisers.

Hundreds of complaints about the tests have been submitted by teachers.

Even CfE architect Keir Bloomer, who supported the idea of standardised testing, told MSPs the current tests were “the worst of all worlds”.

Swinney said a practitioner forum of teachers and professional groups will look at all aspects of the P1 assessments to improve the experience for children, while pupils and teachers will have more opportunity to provide feedback on the tests at other assessment stages.

“The assessments should be delivered as part of everyday learning and teaching,” he said.

“These are not 'high stakes' assessments - there is no pass or fail and there is no time limit. The average time taken to complete a Primary 1 assessment is less than an hour and that is a very short amount of time to give teachers information to help plan a child's progress to the next steps in learning.”

Teaching union the EIS said it still had “serious concerns” about the tests and that the review recommendations “did little” to address them.

EIS education convener Susan Quinn also expressed surprise that Swinney suggested feedback on the tests were mostly positive.

“These findings run contrary to the vast majority of experiences reported by teachers across Scotland in the recent EIS survey, the findings of which were shared with the Scottish Government,” she said.

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott called the review “a blatant spin document” and said the matter could be forced into a vote in parliament once MSPs come back after recess.

“These tests for P1 children have been shown up as time-consuming, confusing and of limited value,” he said.

“The SNP are carrying on regardless. We say they should stop the P1 tests. We want a vote at Holyrood to force ministers to see the sense in halting them.”

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Education & Skills

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