Education

14.12.18

Fife Council scraps controversial P1 assessments despite harsh government opposition

Fife Council has announced that it will be scrapping the controversial standardised P1 assessments at the end of the current academic year.

At an authority meeting yesterday, councillors agreed to withdraw from the P1 Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs) scheme and replace it with Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (PIPS) assessments from the beginning of school session 2019-20, but will continue to use standardised assessments for children at P4, P7, and in secondary school.

The P1 assessments were designed to replace the various different assessment arrangements used by different councils across Scotland, with the secondary aim of collecting data to see which schemes were best for raising attainment levels.

Scottish education secretary John Swinney criticised the council’s decision, arguing that P1 level pupils will now face two assessments a year rather than a single one.

“It is difficult to see how this would address the concerns raised around workload and pupil experience,” he explained. “It is, in fact, the precise opposite of what they claim they are trying to achieve and would cost taxpayers more money to double the tests P1 pupils face. That makes little sense.”

On the other hand, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), a teachers’ union, welcomed Fife Council’s decision to scrap the P1, but said “this should not be at the cost of a return to Fife's previous system of over-using standardised assessments.”

A spokesperson added: “If the council is serious about ensuring that all assessment genuinely supports learning and is committed to relieving the pressure that standardised assessment places on pupils, they should not be replacing SNSAs with a model that is potentially more damaging.”

Others, including Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, described the decision as “very sensible.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Very sensible decision by <a href="https://twitter.com/FifeCouncil?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@FifeCouncil</a> <a href="https://t.co/WzY2utDkl2">https://t.co/WzY2utDkl2</a></p>&mdash; Willie Rennie (@willie_rennie) <a href="https://twitter.com/willie_rennie/status/1073222270007566336?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 13, 2018</a></blockquote>

<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Rennie said that, following the Scottish Parliament’s decision to end the SNP’s national assessments for P2 pupils, with criticism from teachers, parents and the EIS, “it is now up to councils to see sense.”

“Fife Council have done the right thing today. Teachers say national testing of five-year-olds wastes valuable class time and doesn’t tell them anything they do not already know. There is no logical, justifiable or democratic basis for it to continue,” the Lib Dem leader added.

“I hope that the other councils which have also been exploring putting a stop to this doomed policy will take heart from this vote.”

Top image: HPuschmann

 

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