As a loyal SNP stalwart, Fay Sinclair no doubt wins brownie points from John Swinney for her support for standardised Primary 1 tests (“Tests opposition dismissed as ‘grandstanding’ by councillor”, 24.9.18), but unfortunately for Fife’s education and children’s services convenor, that support is blind.
It is blind to the knowledge and experiences of teachers and parents who have come out overwhelmingly against the tests. It is blind to the professional opinion of the teachers’ union EIS which cites international evidence to show that such early formal testing is worse than useless. And it is blind to the will of the Scottish Parliament, which this month passed a motion to halt the tests.
Worst of all, Ms Sinclair deliberately confuses the informal pupil-centred assessments of P1 pupils which teachers in Fife and elsewhere in Scotland have always carried out, and which no one objects to, with the computerised standard tests now being imposed by Mr Swinney. Unless children already have a knowledge of numeracy and literacy as well as experience of using a computer to take such tests, they cannot even begin to do Mr Swinney’s test. Many children will not have these skills when they enter P1, and none should be expected to have them.
As with so many of his education reforms, Mr Swinney has been caught out. Rather than doing his homework properly, he’s got Mr Sinclair and the party faithful covering for him.
Councillor Linda Holt (East Neuk & Landward)
01333 720 378