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Secondary tests condemned as 'gigantic red herring'

Michael Forsyth's plans to introduce externally marked tests in reading, writing and mathematics in the first two years of secondary school have been denounced by parents, the teacher unions and local authorities.

The Educational Institute of Scotland in an emergency motion yesterday (Thursday) at its conference in Perth, was expected to warn the Secretary of State that his plans would be unworkable.

Ronnie Smith, the union's general secretary, said: "It is a strange announcement at a strange time, seems rather political and is not very logical. It will only be in S1S2 there is a statutory obligation to apply a test. "

Elizabeth Maginnis, the local authorities' education convener, forecast a re-run of the battles over primary testing which Mr Forsyth lost.

Diana Daly, director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said the move was "a gigantic red herring to divert attention from the funding issue".

Bob McKay, president of the Association of Directors of Education, said the announcement was "unfortunate" and "regrettable" and failed to recognise developments in the curriculum and in assessment procedures.

Testing would not provide the information on children's progress that Mr Forsyth said he wanted.

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