McArthur: Government riding roughshod over councils on education

Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesman Liam McArthur MSP has today accused the SNP government of micro-managing local authorities as it attempts to impose one-size-fits-all education policies.

Mr McArthur made his comments at a sitting of the Education Committee today during which members considered the Education (Scotland) Bill.

In particular Mr McArthur highlighted Ministers’ rushed policy on teaching hours, one which has been criticised by COSLA and many individual local councils.

Speaking after the meeting Mr McArthur said:

“The government’s last-minute amendment to legislate on teaching hours shows the Cabinet Secretary is making it up as she goes along. At no stage was the committee informed that these changes were likely to be brought forward and no evidence has been taken on the policy, cost and wider implications. Even so, SNP members of the committee dutifully backed their Minister.

'This is more about the SNP not wanting to be replaced in the affections of the teaching unions by Labour than it is about improving educational provision and outcomes.”

Mr McArthur also moved an amendment to the bill to remove the provision of national standardised testing of primary pupils, which has been roundly criticised by teaching unions, individual teachers and children's groups.

On the possible introduction of such testing he said:

“Teaching unions have denounced the idea of national standardised testing as a backward step and few teachers have a good word to say about it.

“Assessment is a necessary part of teaching, but the Scottish education system has no shortage of data, particularly at classroom and school level. National standardised tests in literacy and numeracy simply will not provide a rounded evaluation of student learning.

“A blunt, one-size-fits-all policy goes completely against the whole ethos of Curriculum for Excellence. It seems inevitable that teaching to the test and league tables will be the consequence of introducing national standardised testing in this way.”

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