Rennie: National testing is a throwback to Thatcherism

The Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Wille Rennie has dubbed the First Minister’s decision to proceed with national testing as a “throwback to Thatcherism”, saying the plans will undermine the work of teachers and the ambitions of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). 

The National Improvement Framework, published today, sets out how national testing of P1, P4, P7 and S3 pupils will be implemented across Scotland, despite a host of bodies including teacher unions, parent teacher councils, individual teachers and parents raising concerns over the proposals. Most recently a survey carried out by the Scottish Parent Teacher Council highlighted that almost half of parents have mixed feelings about national standardised tests, with many specifically concerns about how the data might be used.

Speaking after the First Minister unveiled the plans which could see the return of crude league tables in Scotland, Mr Rennie said: “The reintroduction of national tests and the inevitable league tables is a throwback to Thatcherism. National testing goes against the very essence of Curriculum for Excellence, which gives the power to teachers to oversee the development of each pupil.

“Let’s not forget that when national testing was abolished by the Liberal Democrats in 2003 the SNP described league tables as ‘Thatcherite’ and ‘meaningless’. Nothing the First Minister has said today will avoid school league tables. By returning to Margaret Thatcher’s policy the First Minister is undermining the hard work of those teachers.

“These national tests will lead to league tables, high stakes testing and teaching to the test. They will undermine efforts to increase attainment in Scottish schools. Before launching the policy in September the Scottish Government only received four pieces of written evidence from two education advisors in the run up to launching this policy and neither came out specifically in support of it. The OECD report the SNP bandy around with the claim that it voices support for these proposals specifically warns against a crude system.

“Instead of her cavalier approach to this policy the First Minister needs to open her ears to the real worries of parents, unions and teachers, who have all raised concerns over these plans in the very consultation published alongside these proposals.”

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