Scottish testing fears after schools bill passed

Flagship legislation requiring the Scottish Government and councils to tackle the attainment gap has been passed by Holyrood, despite concerns about the return of national testing for primary school pupils.

The proposed legislation would see national tests given to pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3 if implemented. Image: TSPL
The proposed legislation would see national tests given to pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3 if implemented. Image: TSPL

Education secretary Angela Constance hailed the reforms as a “significant milestone for education in this country”.

The Education (Scotland) Bill, which was unanimously agreed, places a duty on local authorities and ministers to prioritise measures to reduce the educational divide between youngsters from different backgrounds.

It also legislates for the introduction of a National Improvement Framework in Scotland’s schools, which will bring in national assessments for youngsters in P1, P4, P7 and S3.

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Campaigners at the charity Children in Scotland have insisted testing children in the first year of primary school is “simply not appropriate for their age’’, while Liberal Democrat education spokesman Liam McArthur called on ministers to ditch the plans.

He raised fears that standardised testing would inevitably lead to school league tables, and said: “I would urge the government to heed the calls of teaching unions, teachers and parents to drop plans for national standardised testing in primary schools.”