Nicola Sturgeon: '˜P1 tests will close attainment gap in schools'

Nicola Sturgeon has launched a staunch defence of Primary One testing in Scotland's school amid growing opposition calls for them to be axed.

The First Minister insisted it was about what’s “best for young people” and monitoring their development from an early age.

Labour’s Iain Gray has lodged a Holyrood motion calling on the tests to be axed and all opposition parties want them stopped. It is likely the minority SNP government will soon lose a Holyrood vote.

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Campaigners have also threatened a boycott, but Ms Sturgeon insisted yesterday that the national tests, introduced last year, are there for “good reason”.

Nicola Sturgeon visits Renfrew High School to announce registration for the First Ministers Reading Challenge is now open to both primary and secondary schools. Picture: Getty

“They produce lots of valuable information,” the First Minister told Bauer Radio.

“This is about being part of an approach by the Scottish Government to raise standards in schools and close the attainment gap.

“Getting access to information about how young people are doing to inform the judgement that teachers make is really important.”

“If a child in Primary One is needing just a little bit of extra help with their reading or their numbers, surely it’s better that that is known in Primary One rather than waiting until later on in the school when it right be harder to provide that extra help.”

The EIS teaching unions opposes the Scottish National Standardised Assessment (SNSA) in Primary One. They also take place in P4, P7 and S3.

The Scottish Government has already carried out a review and pledged to make changes to the questions in the P1 tests, but they won’t be axed.

“This is about what’s best for young people,” Ms Sturgeon said.

The tests take less than an hour and a have always been done by councils, albeit not on a national basis, she added.

“It’s not high stakes testing, there’s no pass or fail. These are integral to what teachers should be doing to assess how the young person is progressing.

But Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie branded the First Minister’s defence of national testing as “deeply deluded”.

“It is an insult to teachers to make out testing takes up so little of their time and absolutely outrageous to suggest it gives them any information that they won’t have ascertained themselves over the nine or ten months they’ve been teaching them,” he said.

“The First Minister’s misleading and obstinate approach is standing in the way of teachers being able to make the most of precious classroom time.