More than 280,000 tests carried out on P1s despite vote to abolish them

Liberal Democrats accuse the SNP of 'profoundly undemocratic' behaviour.

More than 280,000 tests carried out on primary ones despite vote to abolish them Getty Images

More than 280,000 tests have been conducted on four and five-year-olds since September 2018, despite the Scottish Parliament voting to halt them.

In September 2018, the Scottish Parliament voted by 63 votes to 61 for a motion which called on the Scottish Government to halt the tests on children in P1, with the Scottish Greens among those who voted for the tests to be scrapped.

A 2021 manifesto from the party committed to “end” the “stress and pressure” of assessments. 

However, a parliamentary question from the Scottish Liberal Democrat’s spokesperson Willie Rennie to the Scottish Government’s education secretary Shirley Anne-Somerville revealed that at least 283,771 tests have been conducted since September 20, 2018. 

Rennie has since accused the SNP of behaving in a way that is “profoundly undemocratic”.

He said: “Teachers’ unequivocal message is that these pointless tests tell them nothing they do not already know. It is a complete waste of time and gets in the way of learning.

“When Boris Johnson tried to give the Westminster parliament the run around, SNP MPs were filing legal bids and filling up the airwaves about how atrocious it all was. Now that it is their own government doing something so profoundly undemocratic, all we hear is silence. 

“The SNP only want the Scottish Parliament to be a talking shop for independence. They don’t like accountability, transparency or doing what is best for our children. The Education Secretary is delusional if she thinks these tests are helping. 

“These figures are equally damning for the Scottish Greens. They stood with the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Conservatives in voting for these to be abolished but now they hide behind the sofa as these tests carry on. They have put nationalism before the needs of these four and five-year-olds.  

“The Scottish Parliament needs a formal mechanism for holding to account ministers and members who are in contempt of Parliament.  

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will stand up and make sure the voices of teachers and parents are heard. It’s time to end the SNP’s standardised national testing and Thatcherite league tables.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “David Reedy’s 2019 review of Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs) for P1 found that they have significant potential and should continue.

“Recommendations from the review on enhancing assessments and support materials for teachers have since been implemented.

“The assessment approach in Scotland places teacher professional judgement at the heart of the process.

“SNSAs are a helpful additional source of information for teachers when considering children’s progress in literacy and numeracy.”

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