Senior civil servant accused of misleading parents in P1 testing row

John Swinney has been urged to rethink testing for Primary 1 pupils
John Swinney has been urged to rethink testing for Primary 1 pupils
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Politicians and campaigners have accused a senior Scottish Government civil servant of misleading them on their rights amid a row over controversial tests for primary school pupils.

Deputy Director of the Scottish Government’s learning directorate, Graeme Logan, told councils in a letter that parents did not have the right to opt their children out of the tests other than in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

READ MORE: Teachers’ union backs boycott of Primary 1 testing

The civil servant cited legal advice from the Society of Local Authority Lawers in Scotland (Solar), writing that the group advised the government and that all children would participate.

It has since been revealed in the Herald, however, that the advisory body didn’t express a view to the Government on the controversial literacy and numeracy tests.

A Solar spokesperson told the paper: “Solar has not advised the Scottish Government that parents don’t have the option to opt out of the assessments. Solar does not have an agreed position on this matter and has therefore not provided any formal or informal view.

READ MORE: Primary 1 testing to be overhauled not axed

“To clarify, Solar works alongside other stakeholders, including the Scottish Government, on a number of matters, but we cannot and do not provide any stakeholder with legal advice.”

The Scottish Government said that they had ‘communicated in good faith’.

Opposition parties hit out at the confusion, with Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith claiming that the SNP position on the testing of P1 pupils was in ‘confusion’.

She added: “Worse still, it seems the Scottish Government has issued misinformation to the directors of education and has therefore confused matters even more. This is wholly unacceptable.”

Eileen Prior of parent body Connect said the news was shocking and disturbing.