P1 children still sitting tests despite Holyrood opposition

Thousands of children have been put through tests in their first year of school, despite the Scottish Parilament demanding the controversial assessments should be scrapped.

Holyrood voted to scrap P1 tests, but more than 11,000 children have sat the assessments in the last six months.

More than 5600 literacy tests and 5870 numeracy tests have been sat by four and five years olds in Scottish schools in the last six months according to figures released by the Sctottish Liberal Democrats.

Yet last September, opposition parties combined in Holyrood to defeat the government by 63 to 61 and demand the tests were halted.

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While the vote was not binding on the Scottish Government, today LibDem education spokesperson Tavish Scott said that the continued use of national assessments in primary one was treating Parliament with disrespect.

He said: “As the Scottish Parliament this week celebrates its 20th anniversary, the SNP Government shows sheer contempt for the democratic decision the “national” Parliament has made.

“Parliament voted to halt the national testing of four and five-year-old children. But that has been breached 11,528 times already. Tens of thousands more tests will happen over the coming weeks. The First Minister can’t pretend to be the protector of the Parliament’s powers while at the same time ignoring its unambiguous decision."

He added: “Teachers are clear that these national tests for P1s tell them nothing they do not already know. They are exasperated by what a waste of time they are. The Education Committee’s recent report confirmed that there was no evidence for the imposition of testing on Scotland’s youngest school children.

“These national tests need to be scrapped and we need a government who accept the will of parliament, not treat it with contempt.”

The national standardised assessments were introduced two years ago for P1, P4, P7 and S3 pupils to help measure the attainment gap in schools. But some teachers, education unions and all opposition parties are against their use for P1 pupils - with reports suggesting the tests have left some youngsters in tears.

The figures came from a Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information request, showing that 5,658 literacy tests and 5,870 numeracy tests were completed between last September and the Easter holidays.

Scottish Labour's education spokesman, Iain Gray, back Mr Scott's call for the tests to go. He added: “The Scottish Parliament voted to end the testing of Primary 1 pupils, but the SNP has completely ignored the result.

“The SNP government should recognise that vote, respect the will of the Parliament and bin the tests. Teachers believe these tests are a waste of time and parents simply don’t trust them.

“Parliament listened to teachers and parents, and now John Swinney should listen to Parliament and scrap these tests.”

And Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith MSP said: “The SNP have chosen to complete ignore the voice of the Scottish Parliament when it comes to Primary 1 testing.

“Parties united across the political divide to scrap these assessments last year, but John Swinney has chosen to continue his crusade regardless. Teachers and educationalists do not believe these tests deliver meaningful results, and it’s time we got rid of them altogether.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “The Scottish national standardised assessments were specifically designed for the Scottish curriculum and provide teachers with objective, nationally consistent information related to everyday learning.

“We have made clear that assessment has long been an important part of the improvement agenda, and teachers with experience of using the assessments have spoken of how useful they are as one of a range of ways to gauge a pupil’s progression.”

Last month the Scottish Government said the assessments would be modified as a result of feedback from teachers, but they will not be scrapped.