The Swinney’s not for turning

5th October 2018 at 00:00

The Scottish government has been under fire over recent weeks for its unbending stance on assessments at P1.

Opposition parties combined last month to vote in favour of scrapping the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs) for P1s.

The vote did not apply to the other age groups taking SNSAs, which started last year.

However, far from backing down under such large-scale opposition, the SNP has doubled down, with education secretary John Swinney coming out swinging to defend the government’s programme.

He went on the attack at the SNP conference in Glasgow this week, accusing opposition parties of “jaw-dropping” opportunism in their condemnation of the P1 assessments and of “playing politics” with children’s education.

Swinney reserved most of his scorn for the Scottish Conservatives, arguing that their opposition to P1 SNSAs was the worst example of opportunism last month, given their previous support for the assessments at all levels.

He also provided little succour to those hoping for an increased pay offer for teachers, following the breakdown of talks with unions last week. On the current offer, he said: “We will make sure the teachers’ pay deal is the best in the UK.”

EIS union general secretary Larry Flanagan said teachers would be “somewhat mystified” to read about comments from Mr Swinney that they are “apparently well-paid”.

So although the SNP conference may be over, it looks as though the battles continue over teacher pay and assessments. The world of Scottish education is going to be many things over the coming months, but one thing is for certain: there’s no danger of it being quiet.


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