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‘Scrap national tests for youngest pupils’

Labour lodges parliamentary motion demanding the abolition of national assessments for P1 pupils in Scotland

Iain Gray, of the Scottish Labour Party, wants national tests for P1s to be scrapped

Labour lodges parliamentary motion demanding the abolition of national assessments for P1 pupils in Scotland

Scottish Labour will today lodge a parliamentary motion calling for standardised national testing for the youngest pupils to be scrapped.

Education spokesman Iain Gray (pictured) will lay a motion seeking cross-party support to end the Scottish National Standardised Assessments for P1s, who are aged 4 or 5 at the start of the school year.

He said: “These tests are a shambles, and the SNP’s refusal to listen to the mounting evidence against them is bordering on farcical.

“Yet again [education secretary] John Swinney is refusing to listen to teachers and parents. These tests are driving children to tears, waste vital classroom time and provide no help to close the attainment gap.”

He added that “if education really is the government’s top priority, ministers should listen to the sheer number of voices telling them these tests have to go”.

Controversial national tests

On Thursday, first minister Nicola Sturgeon refused to say whether she would drop controversial national tests for P1s if MSPs voted against them.

Her government has faced growing pressure over the SNSAs, and concerns about the impact on P1 pupils, in particular, have driven a campaign to boycott the tests.

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesman Tavish Scott asked the first minister on Thursday if she would accept the decision when “the parliament votes to stop the testing of four- and five-year-olds in Primary 1 classes across Scotland”.

In response, Ms Sturgeon said: “We will continue to make the case for what we are doing. I think it’s important to take a calm look at this.

“Assessments are not new in Scottish education – 29 out of 32 councils were already doing Primary 1 assessments. In fact, the majority of councils did two a year.

“What the Scottish government has done is standardise them, so that all councils are using the same tool, and we’ve made them more relevant to the Curriculum for Excellence levels.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "Standardised assessments are delivered as part of everyday learning and 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 of the first year of operation found that many teachers were pleased with the information provided, while the average P1 assessment took less than half an hour in the year."

She added: "Enhancements and improvements this year will provide a better experience for younger pupils and extra reassurance to teachers and parents."

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