Government accused of using children as ‘guinea pigs’ for national testing

As debate rages in England over testing in primary schools, fury has erupted in another part of the UK over plans to introduce national testing for children as young as 4

The Scottish government was this week accused of treating schoolchildren “like guinea pigs” as it pushed forward with plans to bring in national testing in P1, P4, P7 and S3 (equivalent to Years 1, 4, 7 and 9)

Experts north of the border have raised concerns that there is not enough time to pilot the new online standardised assessments, as the contract to deliver them was advertised six months behind schedule.

It also emerged this week that the new regime of tests would cost £12 milion over five years, more than double what councils currently spend on standardised testing in schools.

According to education directors, the original timeline, set out in the draft National Improvement Framework, was “ridiculous” and now experts and politicians say that delays to the procurement process could have serious consequences.

Keith Topping, professor of educational and social research at the University of Dundee, said that if the tests were properly trialled, they could not be ready for the scheduled start in August. The pilot, he said, was most likely to start this October.

Tavish Scott, the Liberal Democrats education spokesperson, said the cost of the tests and the delay in their implementation was “a real concern”. He added: “Pupils deserve better than to be treated as guinea pigs.”

The Scottish government, however, argues it has been committed to getting the specification for the assessments right and the tests will still be piloted this year and introduced to schools on-schedule in August 2017.

News of the cost of the tests and the delays comes as a poll shared exclusively with TESS reveals that public opinion is split over whether it is a good idea to introduce the literacy and numeracy assessments.

This is an edited article from the 24 June edition of TESS. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week’s TESS magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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