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.”


Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today