What are the P1 tests?
In the 2017-2018 school year, the Scottish Government introduced Scottish National Standardised Assessment (SNSA) at Primary 1, Primary 4, Primary 7 and Secondary 3. The government’s information sheet for parents can be found here.
The tests are tablet based and Primary 1 children are required to sit one test in literacy and one in numeracy. Each is supposed to take about 40 minutes but in practice they often take longer. Upstart’s reasons for campaigning against the use of SNSA tests at such a young age are given in our document Play Not Tests for P1 and summarised in the short video on About the Campaign.
Here are some teachers comments immediately after administering the SNSA tests in 2018:
In early August 2018 there was a media outcry when a Freedom of Information question to the Scottish government revealed the extent of teachers’ anger, distress and frustration about the tests. Reports appeared in the Herald, Scotsman, Telegraph, Daily Record, Times Educational Supplement (Scotland), Sunday Times, Scotland on Sunday (which also included a leader article (‘Experts know the best age for children to start school’). and many more. The story was covered by BBC Scotland and STV, and Lesley Riddoch wrote a powerful column in the Scotsman, urging government to rethink its approach to early years education.
The Scottish government responded that it would be reviewing all the SNSA tests for the next round of testing in school year 2018-19 and that the process should be ‘fun’ for young children (reported in the Herald). But the controversy continued, not least because of great confusion at government level over the right of parents to opt their children out of the tests – press coverage of this is included in our September newsletter.
Media interest in the topic mounted when all the opposition parties called on the government to drop the P1 SNSA and a parliamentary vote was tabled for 19th September. In the run up to the vote a letter to the National from the highly-respected Professor Brian Boyd summed up the feelings of many in the educational world. Upstart particularly enjoyed two pieces in Bella Caledonia during this period, a review of the political controversy by James McEnaney and a lovely piece about Angelic Upstarts by Mike Small. On 17-9-18, Common Space gave Upstart the chance to state our position before the question went to Parliament.
A debate was held in Parliament on 19-9-18 (see the televised broadcast here) and the motion to halt the P1 tests was passed by 63 votes to 61. This was, of course, widely reported in the press, e.g. the Herald. However, the Scottish Government immediately announced its intention to continue with P1 testing, thus ignoring the will of the Scottish Parliament.
Since then, two reviews have been announced: an independent review of the P1 SNSA and a review by the parliamentary Education Committee of the SNSAs as a whole. Upstart Scotland will be submitting evidence to both these reviews.
In the meantime, the P1 tests will continue to be administered in 2019.