Rennie: Swinney's 'fun' national testing claim an insult to teachers

After Education Secretary John Swinney said five-year-olds should find national testing "fun", Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said he was "delusional" and pointed to the intervention today by the former children's commissioner who described the policy as "wrong on so many levels".

Tam Baillie, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People from 2009 until last year, also told the Sun newspaper that:

  • "The government promotes play in the early years, including nursery and early primary school. It is also introducing testing for P1 children. These two policies are pulling in opposite directions and play-based learning is losing out."
  • "I want all children in Scotland to be the best they can be and a step in the right direction would be to scrap P1 tests and free up our children to full blown play-based learning."

Willie Rennie commented:

"John Swinney is desperately trying to tell people that national testing of five-year-olds should be 'fun' and that teachers find it useful. That is both delusional and an insult to the teachers who took the time to submit hundreds of pages worth of feedback which he shows no sign of having read.

"Professional after professional described the chaos that the SNP's national testing regime has inflicted on their P1 classes and teaching, the repercussions of which were felt by pupils and staff in the rest of the school as they were stripped of support. To make matters worse, they said the results are of no use to them.

"Tam Baillie's is a voice that John Swinney would be foolish to ignore.

"The solution is to scrap tests for five-year-olds, not update ministerial guidance to ensure nobody is in any doubt that fun is compulsory."

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