As Parliament returns from its summer recess, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has opened discussions with opposition leaders and invited them to use the first available opportunity to scrap national testing for P1 pupils which have been beset by problems and complaints from teachers.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, Labour and the Greens have all voiced firm opposition to the continuation of the tests.
A Scottish Government review this week failed to scrap them, despite a wealth of negative feedback, causing the EIS teaching union to say the findings were "contrary to the vast majority of experiences reported by teachers across Scotland”. It was also revealed this week that advice the Scottish Government quoted in a bid to deter a parental boycott didn't actually exist.
With schools already back and the SNP Government isolated in its support for national testing for five-year-olds, Willie Rennie has opened cross-party discussions in an effort to ensure that there is an unequivocal parliamentary vote at the earliest opportunity to scrap the policy.
Willie Rennie commented:
"The Scottish Government review of its own national testing policy was unsurprisingly a whitewash.
"Teachers were horrified that ministers dismissed the feedback that they had been bombarded with. They opted to retain the tests for P1s despite overwhelming evidence from across the country that they are a monumental waste of time and resources, counterproductive and useless in assessing a child's level.
"Parents considering withdrawing their children were told by ministers to get back in line, only to discover this week that the legal advice the Scottish Government used to do this didn't actually exist.
"The SNP can't escape the parliamentary maths. They can't point to having the support of any other MSP for their policy of national tests for P1 pupils.
"The schools are already back and Parliament will follow them this week. There is no time to lose and that is why I have today invited the other opposition leaders to agree to use the first available opportunity to scrap national testing for P1 pupils. Parliament must put a stop to this shambles."