SNP 'risks contempt of Parliament over P1 tests'

After UK government is found in contempt of Parliament, Scottish government faces similar accusation over national tests

Emma Seith

'SNP risks contempt of parliament over P1 tests'

The Scottish government could be in contempt of Parliament over its decision to continue with the testing of literacy and numeracy in P1, it has been claimed.

The Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton issued the warning to education secretary John Swinney in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon.

He said: “We voted in this chamber to end the national assessment of five-year-olds and yet still this government persist, arguably in contempt of this Parliament.”

Yesterday at Westminster, prime minister Theresa May’s government was found by MPs to be in contempt of Parliament for refusing to release the full legal advice on the Brexit deal, despite Parliament passing a motion demanding that it be made available.

In September, MSPs at the Scottish Parliament voted 63-61 in favour of halting the P1 assessments, which teachers have been highly critical of. However, rather than stop the assessments – which also take place in P4, P7 and S3 – in a statement to parliament in October Mr Swinney said that he would respect the will of the Scottish Parliament by ordering an independent review of P1 Scottish National Standardised Assessments. That review is due to report in May, but the P1 assessments are continuing as planned in the meantime.

'Halt P1 tests immediately'

Mr Cole-Hamilton argued the government should halt the P1 assessments immediately whilst the independent review is carried out.

In response, Mr Swinney said he did not think that the vote to stop the testing was driven by educational considerations, but by politics.

Mr Swinney said: “I think we have got to be careful that we don’t take decisions based on political considerations in Parliament that may damage the educational journey of young people through our education system, because that would not serve young people well.”

He added that other parties had been invited to give input into the independent review.

However, Labour MSP Johann Lamont said it did Mr Swinney “no good at all to impugn the motives of those people who believe, in educational terms, this policy is inappropriate”.

She added it was “important here and elsewhere” that the will of Parliament was accepted and reiterated the call for the tests to be suspended until the review reports.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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