21st December 2018
Primary One tests on young children in South Lanarkshire should be halted following the Scottish Parliament’s vote on 19th September calling on the Scottish Government to stop the tests. This was the view of Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown, speaking in a debate on the subject at South Lanarkshire Council on Wednesday.
The debate led to a dramatic 31-31 vote (with 1 abstention) with Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative Councillors supporting suspension of the tests – equally balanced by SNP and Independent Councillors who backed the SNP Government’s position. The Council Provost had to use his casting vote to defeat the move to suspend the tests.
“It is unfortunate that the SNP Education Secretary John Swinney had not taken more heed of the view of MSPs from all the other Parties – Liberal Democrat, Labour, Conservative and Green – that P1 tests were unnecessary, sometimes damaging and opposed by many parents, teachers, unions and others.
Teachers are already aware from their engagement with children in their care where there are issues – and these are unlikely to be spotted by bureaucratic tests in any event. The tests are really a bureaucratic requirement by the Scottish Government which takes away from teaching time and diverts attention from the real issues of class sizes and teacher numbers.
The SNP Education Secretary lacks public or Parliamentary support for pressing on with the tests. It is therefore entirely right that the Council should look at options for suspending the P1 tests.
This was a very close and hotly-debated vote and P1 tests will unfortunately continue for the time being. I remain of the view they have little benefit and are a distraction for teachers. As in Parliament, opposition to the tests came from all the other political Parties – Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrats – which, in my experience, is extremely unusual.”