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Scotland’s largest teaching union hits out at Scottish Government over P1 testing

Wednesday June 12th 2019 at 11:16 AM

Scotland’s largest teaching union the EIS has hit out at the Scottish Government’s decision to continue with P1 testing.

Education Secretary John Swinney updated Holyrood yesterday on the findings of an external report into the controversial assessments, which was carried out after a motion was passed by opposition parties last year calling for them to be scrapped.

The independent review made 28 recommendations for improvement but said the tests shouldn’t be shelved, as long as the “important issues” outlined were addressed.

It was carried out by David Reedy, former co-directorof the Cambridge Primary Review Trust and both general secretary and president of the UK Literacy Association.

Mr Swinney said: “Having been asked explicitly to consider whether the Primary One assessments should be stopped, Mr Reedy’s answer in his independent review is that they should not.

“Rather, David Reedy concludes it would be beneficial for them to continue – albeit with important modifications and the establishment of additional guidance and support for practitioners – to ensure they deliver their intended value as low stakes, diagnostic assessments.

“Mr Reedy acknowledges that the assessments can provide an additional source of objective, nationally consistent information about where a child is performing strongly, and where he or she might require further support.

“I do not suggest this review has delivered an unqualified green light to the Scottish Government in terms of P1 assessments.

“Clearly, the review makes important recommendations about improvement and I am determined to take the valuable learning contained within Mr Reedy’s review and act upon it.”

The standardised assessments were introduced across Scotland in 2017 and have been repeatedly criticised by parents, unions and teachers, who claim they cause pupils unneccessary anxiety and distress.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said,

“David Reedy’s report, with its 28 recommendations for improvement, would seem to be a clear indication that Scottish Government got it wrong on P1 standardised assessments first time around.

“In the rush to introduce SNSAs insufficient time was taken to even ensure that their purpose was communicated clearly leading to a situation where schools are now to be visited with a third set of guidance before the assessments are even 2-years old!”

Mr Flanagan also rejected the suggestion that pupil anxiety about the assessments might have been caused by the attitude of teachers.

He said: “It’s certainly true that many teachers felt under pressure from management to comply with certain approaches to assessments and, as the report makes clear, were understandably unclear as to the purpose of the tests, but to dismiss the concerns of P1 pupils so lightly, or indeed to try to blame their teachers, is quite unacceptable.

“We do welcome confirmation that the assessments should be only used for diagnostic purposes and we will continue to monitor this aspect of their implementation.”

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