Swinney’s ’desperate’ attempt to drum up P1 test support
JOHN Swinney was branded “desperate” last night after inviting all MSPs to watch Government officials demonstrate controversial tests for P1 pupils.
The unusual move aims to take politicians through the process one day before opposition parties are expected to unite in a vote against the policy.
In a letter sent yesterday, Education Secretary Swinney said there is “significant” interest in the standardised assessments.
“The demonstration will offer the opportunity to view an example of the P1 assessment, as well as the chance to see the information it generates for teachers,” he adds in the letter.
“In order to ensure Parliament’s consideration of this issue is as informed as possible, I do hope you will be able to attend.”
Labour and Lib Dems criticised the move and insisted they will still reject the policy. The likely vote next Wednesday will not be binding on the Government but it would demonstrate clear opposition.
The tests have been slated as an unwanted and expensive burden on teachers, which can leave four and five-year-olds upset. Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: “This is a desperate move from John Swinney.
“The idea that civil servants performing the tests to MSPs is in any way equivalent to the pressure felt by a four-year-old sitting them is utter nonsense.”
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “This is a very odd offer from the Education Secretary.
“I am much more interested in what teachers and parents have to say about these tests than I am in watching John Swinney’s civil servants push buttons on a screen.”
In another blow to Swinney, it has emerged that he wanted to pull Scotland out of international school surveys to cut costs and reduce the burden on classrooms.
As finance secretary, Swinney was keen to save £857,000 and remove the need for 12,000 pupils to sit assessments.
Now, he’s spending an estimated £4.6million on national tests for numeracy and literacy.
Emails revealed how the cost-cutting exercise was agreed, and how officials feared a backlash.
Labour said the move makes a mockery of Swinney’s new drive to keep P1 testing in schools.
PRESSURE John Swinney chats to public at the new V&A Dundee museum yesterday but P1 tests row won’t go away