Fife Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to scrap controversial P1 tests.
The move came at today’s meeting of the full council after several months of political wrangling – and it is the first major split in the SNP-Labour administration
In October councillors voted to stop the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA) and ordered their education director to report on how that could be achieved.
November’s meeting of the education committee delivered a U-turn – now councillors have voted for a second time to scrap the tests which are funded by the Holyrood based Government.
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That puts them on a direct collision course with the Scottish Government, and opens up a big split in the ruling administration at Fife House.
The language and numeracy assessments are meant to help teachers understand any issues a young P1 pupil may be having, 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 Scottish Government has rejected.
MSPs have already voted against them in a largely symbolic defeat for the Government.
Today councillors voted 41-26 to scrap the tests.
The move was formally tabled by David Ross, Labour’s co-leader of the council.
He believes that the Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (PIP) method already used is a better way of assessing youngsters – and said the system was backed by parents, teachers and trades unions.
SNP councillors argued for retaining the tests, but were defeated as all other parties voted against.
Councillor Kathleen Leslie, who represents Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy, and education spokesman for Fife’s Conservative group,welcomed the decision .
She said: “ These assessments are educationally flawed and potentially damaging to such young children. Over the past few weeks I have become increasingly concerned about these assessments which is why I have spoken against them and am delighted that Fife has voted to withdraw.”
The decision also had the support of the Lib Dems, whose spokesman, Councillor James Calder, Dunfermline South, said: “Over the past few months both at the Scottish Parliament and Fife Council have made clear that these tests are not appropriate for P1 pupils. Time and time again the SNP have continued to ignore these democratic decisions and have insisted to continue with these discredited tests.
“It now looks like this is finally being resolved in Fife. The majority of councillors made their views clear that these tests are unacceptable and I am glad we can now move on from this.”