Swin­ney’s ’des­per­ate’ at­tempt to drum up P1 test sup­port

Daily Record - - NEWS - by ANDY PHILIP a.philip@dai­lyrecord.co.uk

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

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