Public ‘unconvinced’ over the value of new assessments

24th June 2016 at 00:00
Poll shows voters are divided on government reforms

The teaching unions are clear: the introduction of standardised national testing will be bad for schools, teachers and pupils.

However, it would seem opinion among the general public is less clear-cut, as a poll shared exclusively with TESS shows that Scots fall in roughly equal numbers into three camps: those who support testing, those who are against it and those who are undecided about its value.

The poll, of 1,024 people, shows that 39.2 per cent of voters are against national testing, 31.6 per cent are in favour; and 29.2 per cent are undecided (see figures, below).

Overall, of those people who expressed a preference, 55 per cent are opposed to national testing.

‘Pressure on ministers’

The survey heaps pressure on the government to drop the reform, according to James McEnaney, the teacher and campaigner who commissioned the survey from the polling company Survation.

However, Iain Ellis, former chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland, who sits on the national group shaping the tests, argued that the large number of undecided participants showed that more information was needed about the changes to school assessment.

Mr McEnaney said: “Despite the SNP and the Tories being united in the mistaken belief that standardised testing and school league tables will reduce educational inequality, the people of Scotland remain entirely – and rightly – unconvinced.

“If [Nicola] Sturgeon and education secretary John Swinney are serious about improving Scottish education, they should have the courage to put pupils before politics and admit that they got it wrong.”

But Mr Ellis said: “The big thing for parents is they don’t know enough about the changes that are coming. Communication is a huge issue in Scottish education.”

The Scottish government argues that national assessments will provide teachers with vital information about how children are performing in primary and secondary.

A spokesperson said: “The information that we will collect will give the most detailed picture ever of progress across Scotland, as we work to tackle – and ultimately eliminate – the attainment gap between children from the most and least disadvantaged backgrounds.”


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