Listen to teachers - not Tories - on standardised testing

Last week in parliament the Education Secretary defended the Government's return to national school testing by quoting to me the apparent support of the EIS teaching union.

But this week that claimed support evaporated. The EIS said this:

"… it will be almost impossible to put in place safeguards which would stop national assessments leading to a league table, target-setting agenda…".

As the apparent support of the teachers union was so important last week I assumed that their clear rejection of the Government’s plans would spark a rethink by the First Minister.

I am afraid not. When I asked Nicola Sturgeon whether she would reconsider she declined.

Instead she said she wanted to "…avoid crude league tables being drawn from it.” Then she contradicted herself by saying "But I am determined, and I make no apology for this, that we have better information about the performance of young people in primary and lower secondary school."

Sounds like league tables to me.

Her Programme of Government said national tests will drive "accountability at every level".

That includes schools. That means league tables.

They went onto say "Standardised assessments…will compromise and narrow the learning experience of students."

When the First Minister was in opposition she complained about targets and league tables.

Back then, she said governments are attracted to things that are easy to measure and just as easy to manipulate.

Back then, she agreed that the aim too often was to come top of national league tables rather than serving pupils’ needs.

So her past self and the EIS were at one, but not now. Now it seems only the Conservatives are on board with her on national testing and league tables.

I fear the consequences of a testing system and league tables that forces a return to the culture of teaching to the test which will put unbearable pressure on pupils from such an early age.

Weighing the pig does not fatten the pig.

Instead we need to focus on the root causes of inequality. That’s why I want to see a big investment a Scottish pupil premium and an expansion of nursery education. That’s the positive agenda that we should embrace.

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