Fife Council votes against tests for P1 pupils

Campaign poster against the P1 tests by Upstart Scotland
Campaign poster against the P1 tests by Upstart Scotland

Fife Council has voted against tests for P1 school pupils.

Councillors split along party lines and the majority backed a motion calling for the controversial Scottish Government’s controversial initiative to be stopped.

The tests are meant to assess youngsters literacy and numeracy skills, and help teachers identify anyone who may need extra help at an early stage.

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But they have sparked a huge debate, with opponents claiming they have left children distressed and don’t fit the play-based approach to education in P1– claims the Government has rejected.

The debate in the chamber at Fife split the administration along party lines and, ultimately, backed a call rejecting the tests.

The council will now ask the Scottish Government to withdraw Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA) for P1s.

The vote comes on the back of a defeat for the Government at the Scottish Parliament where MSPs voted against P1 testing.

The largely symbolic result didn’t compel the government to change its plans, although John Swinney, Education Secretary, said he would reflect on the outcome.

He now has to mull over Fife’s own snub.

The debate saw Labour, Lib Dems and the Tories team up to defeat the SNP, sparking a row it had become a “political football.”

Councillor Fay Sinclair (SNP), Fife’s education convener, said: “The starting point for any discussion in education has to be how to give every child the best start and every chance of reaching their potential.”

But opposition was led by Councillor James Calder (Lib Dems) who said: “We need to scrap these tests and allow children to develop in the best nurturing environment.”