Further doubt cast on Scot Gov standardised testing plans as key adviser launches criticism


Scottish Government says standardised testing will reduce attainment gap between poorer and better off students

FRESH DOUBT has been raised over the degree of support for the Scottish Government’s standardised testing policy after a leading adviser to education minister John Swinney launched criticism of it in a speech.

The policy, to have standardised testing for pupils in years P1, P4, P7 and S3 is a flagship of the Scottish Government’s efforts to reduce the educational attainment gap between poorer and wealthier children in Scottish society. 

Speaking to an education conference in Rotterdam yesterday, Professor Andy Hargreaves of the Lynch School of Education in Boston, who is one of Swinney’s international education advisors, said that data collected from standardised testing should not “drive” education policy.

Quoted in Holyrood magazine, he said: “Data isn’t a bad thing, the evidence isn’t a bad thing… but data shouldn’t drive us. We should not be the driven, we should be the drivers. More testing means the testing replaces the judgement.”

He also said he was concerned that tests, which teachers unions say place undue stress on pupils, could create “ill-being”.

Exclusive: The four emails that led to @ScotGov’s controversial standardised testing plan

“When we are creating wellbeing, we also actively have to dispose of the things that create ill-being,” he said.

He also warned that “business capital” was driving the development in academy schools and suppressing teacher pay.

”This is our enemy, worldwide. And when I say ‘our’ I mean the enemy of teachers. I mean the enemy of children. I mean the enemy of the poor,” he said.

Academy type autonomous state schools, which are publicly funded but not subject to local authority control, are a cornerstone of Scottish Conservative policy.

Questions have been raised over the way the Scottish Government consults on and arrives at policy.

CommonSpace has previously revealed that only two education experts were questioned by the Scottish Government during its consultation into standardised testing, in just four emails. One of these experts later pointed out that some of her advice had been ignored.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the impact that anxiety about school work can have on children, which is why health and wellbeing is a key priority of the Curriculum for Excellence. All adults working in schools are responsible for supporting and developing mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing to support successful learning and happy lives.

“As we have made repeatedly clear, the new standardised assessments are not a return to high stakes testing – they will simply help check progress in literacy and reading, automatically generating information for teachers on where a pupil is doing well and where further support may be required. Teachers’ professional judgement remains the key measure of children’s progress.”

Picture courtesy of biologycorner

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