Simon Johnson, scottish political editor writes on 15 AUGUST 2018
John Swinney has been presented with an ultimatum of scrapping the SNP’s controversial primary one tests or facing a mass boycott.
Upstart Scotland, a literacy charity, is distributing 30,000 postcards urging parents with children starting P1 this week to sign up to withdrawing from the literacy and numeracy assessments.
Parents whose children are starting primary school this month are being urged to sign the postcards, fill in their child’s name and send them to the head teacher.
The initiative is part of a joint campaign by children’s charities, parents’ groups and teaching unions to force the Education Minister to dump the scheme.
It won support from the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, which have united in demanding that the tests be scrapped.
The Scottish Government vowed to stand by the tests, one of Nicola Sturgeon’s key policies in her plan to drive up educational standards after Scotland tumbled down international league tables.
But SNP ministers are in danger of losing a proposed parliamentary vote on the abolition of the tests when MSPs return from their summer holidays next month.
They have already attracted a wave of criticism over claims five-year-olds have been left distressed and in tears, while schools have been forced to “teach to the test.”
The Liberal Democrats have also claimed that the Scottish Government deceived parents about the right to withdraw their children.
P1 pupils have been left in tears by the new standardised tests, teachers have claimed.
The Upstart Scotland postcards state: “I do not want my child to sit the primary 1 tests of literacy and numeracy.
“I firmly believe that national standardised assessment of this kind is not developmentally appropriate for young children and would, therefore, prefer assessment to be based on teacher observation and professional judgment, in accordance with the Early Level of the Curriculum for Excellence.”
Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, said she agreed with teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) that the assessments should be scrapped “without delay”.
Iain Gray, Scottish Labour’s education spokesman, said: “Schools across Scotland are returning to an SNP omnishambles – a testing policy descending into chaos as it faces a major campaign by parents and a potential teacher boycott, hundreds of unfilled posts across the country and teachers on the verge of industrial action.
“John Swinney must suspend these tests, he cannot keep defending a discredited policy that is opposed by parents pupils, teachers and the unions”
Willie Rennie, the Scottish Lib Dem leader, said the new campaign was only necessary because SNP ministers had “studiously avoided” telling parents their rights to withdraw their children.
He added: “How many teachers and parents have to boycott these tests before the Education Secretary finally listens?”