Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie today showed the Scottish Government stooping to deliberately confusing parents in a desperate effort to quash the parental boycott of national tests for five-year-olds, after advice issued to them yesterday was shown to conflict that given internally by the top civil servant in charge of the national testing system.
Following the launch of a boycott campaign yesterday, the Scottish Government told parents they have "no formal legal right" to withdraw their children from national testing. However, this flatly contradicts the advice given by David Leng who has the title of "National Standardised Assessments Product Owner".
In an email providing guidance to Glasgow City Council in March, released under a freedom of information request, Mr Leng stated: "With respect to parental rights to withdraw, your parents is [sic] right that there is no legal requirement to sit the SNSA. On that basis the children can be withdrawn."
Mr Rennie commented:
"The Scottish Government has stooped to deliberately confusing parents in a desperate effort to quash the parental boycott of national tests for five-year-olds. They are treating them and teachers with utter contempt.
"The SNP Government has now issued advice that flatly contradicts that given internally by their top civil servant. The architect of John Swinney's national testing regime says there is' no legal requirement to sit the test' so children 'can be withdrawn', but John Swinney's spin doctors have opted to tell parents they have 'no formal legal right to withdraw their child'.
"Other emails in the spring sent by the government to concerned parents wishing to withdraw their children also confirm they are 'not compulsory', although many parents were given the run around first and had to repeatedly ask for a straight answer.
"The Scottish Government has deceived parents from day one about the value, support for and operation of these tests. However, setting out to befuddle parents about their rights as parents is a new low."