GROWING unrest with the 5-14 programme came to the boil. Delegates backed a Glasgow call, supported by the leadership, to stage a boycott if the Government opted for standardised testing following its 5-14 assessment review.
May Ferries, a former president and Glasgow primary depute head, said that standardised testing amounted to "mental cruelty" for pupils and would do nothing to raise standards.
Glasgow is piloting external tests in two secondary school clusters which Alana Ross, another primary teacher in the city, described as "a total scandal". The testing of every pupil from P2 to S2 would not measure progress. It was "the qualy agenda," she said.
From the secondary sector, Jock Morris, also from Glasgow, said one national test in English took six hours to complete. Testing gave only "an illusion of improving standards," he said.
But objections went beyond assessment. Norma Anne Watson, the EIS's outgoing education convener, said the Government was replacing "education, education, education" with "testing, testing, testing." George MacBride, her successor, said enthusiastic and keen pupils were having their hard work branded as "failure".
Lesley Donaldson, Scottish Borders, claimed that a "watered-down secondary curriculum" is now being delivered in primary shools as play and experience are sacrificed to the demands of the 5-14 programme.
Carole Dickson, a principal teacher of modern studies from East Dunbartonshire, called for proper 5-14 training. She claimed to have had only two days of in-service training, one eight years ago and the second in January. But Patrick Boyle, a Renfrewshire primary head, said no amount of professional development would make 5-14 work.
Remarkably, Yvonne Findlay, a 5-14 development officer with Stirling Council, agreed, saying that the programme was fundamentally flawed because it could not be delivered. "To achieve everything in 5-14, a child would have to take on board a new concept every 14 minutes," she said.
Heather McGrattan, from Renfrewshire, said that 5-14 in primary schools meant:
four attainment outcomes for language with 24 associated strands;
four attainment outcomes for maths involving 20 strands;
three attainment outcomes for moral and religious education sharing 13 strands;
two attainment outcomes for PSD with four related strands;
10 attainment outcomes for environmental studies involving 21 strands;
12 attainment outcomes for the expressive arts with 24 associated strands.
Ms McGrattan told delegates: "Super teachers? You bet we are."