Labour opposed to standardised P7 tests

6th February 2009 at 00:00

I thought it might be helpful if I clarified Labour's position on the assessment of children's literacy in primary school.

In the recent debate on education in the Scottish Parliament, Labour put down an amendment calling for an assessment regime linked to individual programmes for pupils who have failed to attain adequate literacy skills. The SNP and Conservatives voted against this amendment, so it was defeated.

The Tory amendment that was passed did not say that there should be standardised national tests for all pupils in P7. However, it has now emerged that the SNP and Tories support this. I would like to make it absolutely clear that Labour is resolutely opposed to standardised national tests for all children in P7.

Labour supports a whole-school approach to literacy based on the expectation that pupils should be functionally literate by the time they leave primary school. We support diagnostic assessment on literacy which identifies any barriers to literacy that some pupils may have, such as dyslexia or auditory problems, with personalised teaching programmes then put in place.

There are already many examples of good practice in this area, such as West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire and others.

Literacy programmes which commit to making every child literate by the end of primary school can make a real difference. Importantly, the Government should be taking the lead in supporting and resourcing such programmes, instead of cutting staff and school budgets because of hopelessly inadequate education funding.

We condemn the SNP Government for doing a deal with the Tories to introduce a national test which will simply label P7 pupils.

We believe that the last thing primary education needs is a return to Tory thinking on national testing in primary schools in Scotland, and have called on the SNP to clarify its position as a matter of urgency.

Rhona Brankin MSP, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

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