Maginnis reads the riot act on testing

17th October 1997 at 01:00
Edinburgh secondaries have been condemned by Elizabeth Maginnis, the city's education convener, for a "lamentable performance" in introducing national testing in the first two years. Mrs Maginnis has threatened tough action, despite continued warnings from the Educational Institute of Scotland about the tests' educational value.

But the city's secondaries may not be out of line with the national picture, according to Jim Anderson, director of education in Angus and chairman of the national implementation committee on the 5-14 programme. Mr Anderson blames the previous government's commitment to compulsory tests for the lack of teacher support.

A survey in the capital shows primaries improving their rates of testing while secondaries have virtually abandoned it. Mrs Maginnis warned the education committee: "I will not tolerate a report in another six months saying there is no national testing in reading, only five pupils tested in S1 in writing and four in mathematics. It is quite unacceptable."

Jim Gilchrist, the Conservative education spokesman, responded: "Well said, Mrs Thatcher."

Mrs Maginnis said: "We are clenching our teeth, ready to bite if necessary. " Heads have been asked to submit plans next month for implementing tests and she warned: "The system has to make up for 18 months of dilatoriness. It is damaging youngsters in terms of progression and assessment and testing has to be taken on board seriously."

But George Rubienski, the teachers' representative on the committee, said a number of schools had found the testing experience "less than satisfactory" and "serious concerns" had been raised.

Mr Anderson said schools had to be persuaded that testing will contribute to measuring added value. "If you say you are committed to quality improvement, you would want to demonstrate that somehow and national testing is one way, provided it is done in the whole-school assessment framework," he said.

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