Labour delegates set to vote against tests for primary one pupils

Labour activists are set to vote against the use of national assessments for primary one pupils when the party holds its Scottish conference later this week.

Labour members will gather in Dundee for the event from Friday, with the controversial tests due to be debated on Saturday.

The motion, which is expected to be backed by delegates brands the tests – which pupils also sit in P4, P7 and S3 – as “deepy flawed”, claiming that they do “not usefully measure attainment or the attainment gap in our schools, but rather masks the Scottish Government’s failures in education and the impact of cuts to teacher numbers, support staff and local authority budgets”.

Use of the tests for pupils in the first year of primary school is “inappropriate”, the motion adds, with Labour set to support scrapping them for P1 youngsters and reviewing their use in other years.

The debate at the Labour conference comes after MSPs in the Scottish Parliament voted to halt the use of national assessments for P1s.

While opposition parties defeated the Scottish Government on the issue in September, the result of the vote was not binding on ministers.

However, Labour will call on the government to return to using the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy to measure achievement amongst pupils.

Party education spokesman Iain Gray said: “Teachers do not want these tests, educationalists do not see the need for them, and Parliament voted to halt them at Primary 1 level.

“Labour delegates will have the opportunity this week to endorse the vote taken in the Scottish Parliament last year to scrap these tests for children in Primary 1.

“To help make our schools the best in the world, Labour would reintroduce the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy to ensure we have a clear idea of the condition of Scottish education.”

Scottish national standardised assessments (SNSA) were introduced for P1, P4, P7 and S3 pupils to help measure the attainment gap in schools, after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted closing it was her top priority.

Education Secretary John Swinney told MSPs in February: “Fundamentally, the approach that I’m bringing to the education system is that I want to create a constantly improving education system – that is my mantra.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish National Standardised assessments were specifically designed for the Scottish curriculum and provide teachers with standard, consistent and comparable 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.

“David Reedy was appointed in December to lead an independent review of P1 assessments. The outcome of that review will be published in May.”

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