Scott: Ministers must not lash out at councils over P1 testing boycotts

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP has today demanded that councils who boycott controversial tests for P1 pupils do not face "recriminations" from the SNP Government, ahead of a statement at Parliament by the Education Secretary this week.

On 19 September 2018, the Scottish Parliament voted to end the tests. However, Education Secretary John Swinney immediately vowed that the tests would continue, despite the stated "will of Parliament" and criticism from campaigners, teachers, parents and the EIS union.

A number of councils including Aberdeen City, East Lothian and Fife have since either voted against continuing with the controversial assessments or instructed council officers to explore such measures.

Speaking ahead of the statement, Mr Scott said:

"We are now one month on from the parliamentary vote to end P1 testing. The question this week is whether the Education Secretary accepts that he lost not just the vote but the argument too.

“Parliament listened to teachers, pupils, and educational experts and sent a simple message. Stop testing five year old girls and boys. Teachers say they waste valuable class time and don't tell them anything they do not already know. Unfortunately John Swinney does not seem inclined to listen.

"Since then a number of councils have taken steps towards end the testing of P1 pupils in their area.

"It has been suggested that the Scottish Government might penalise councils that do by withholding education funding or the like. That would just be wrong.

"If John Swinney this week opts to ignore Parliament for the long haul, there should be no recriminations against councils who do the democratic thing and scrap these tests for their areas, with the backing of the Parliament and local people. It would be the act of a playground bully.

"Better still, the Education Secretary should tell teachers, parents and Parliament that these tests will end. Only then will he be able to begin to drive primary education forward, not back to Thatcherite principles."

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