Scottish Government’s lack of transparency over pupil testing

8 Jun 2015

The SNP government has shown a complete lack of transparency on national testing for pupils, the Scottish Conservatives said today.

Recently, it was widely reported that the Scottish Government were considering re-introducing standardised testing to track the attainment of pupils in schools.

However, it has now been reported that Education Secretary Angela Constance privately ruled this out at a meeting with Larry Flanagan, head of EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching union.

According to the report, he was given a “categorical assurance” that there would be no re-introduction of testing.

That assurance contradicts the comments made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during FMQs on 21 May. Asked about testing, she refused to give a “yes or no answer”.

She added that the government would not “jump to making decisions before we have properly considered what the right thing to do is.”

The refusal to introduce testing comes despite the Scottish Government admitting that it lacks data on school performance.

Official statistics show that reading standards of eight and nine-year-olds have fallen by five per cent since 2012.

Recorded performance in writing at some levels in primary schools and in S2 also fell over the same period.

Scottish Conservative young people spokeswoman Liz Smith said:

“This shows a complete lack of transparency and direction by the SNP government saying one thing in private and another in public.

“First they said they’d considering bringing back testing, now behind closed doors, we hear the education secretary ruling it out.

“The Scottish Government’s record on pupil attainment is getting worse not better and they must show clear direction on the issue.

“For too long, Scotland has not been performing as well as other countries – that’s unacceptable.

“The SNP need a clear direction on raising pupil attainment in all schools, otherwise they will be letting down future generations.”

Notes to editors

Link to FMQs on 21 May: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=9960&i=91489

Link to EIS story: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/minister-rules-out-return-to-national-testing.128126481

No consistent approach to pupil testing: http://www.scottishconservatives.com/2015/05/no-consistent-approach-to-monitoring-pupil-progress/

Fall in reading standards: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-32513792