CONSERVATIVES LOOK TO END PRIMARY ONE TESTS IN SOUTH LANARKSHIRE - BLOCKED BY SNP AND INDEPENDENTS

CONSERVATIVE councillors expressed disappointment after South Lanarkshire’s SNP administration refused to scrap controversial primary one tests.

Parents, teachers and charities have all voiced concerns about standardised assessments involving pupils in their very first year of school.

In September the Scottish Parliament voted that the tests should be halted. Responding to widespread concerns, the Tories’ call to end the tests was backed by Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green MSPs - as all opposition parties united to overrule the nationalist government.

December's meeting of South Lanarkshire Council saw the Conservative Group call for officers to be instructed to prepare a report on the authority’s powers to stop the tests in local schools.

Despite winning the support of Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors, the move was blocked by the SNP administration and its allies in the independent group.

Councillor Richard Nelson, the Conservative Group’s business manager, said: “There is clear opposition to the current approach from educators across Scotland.

“Many teachers have expressed huge concerns about testing this age group - Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney acknowledged that in the parliamentary debate in September.

“No-one could be comfortable hearing stories of four and five year olds left in tears by standardised questions they could not understand.

“Concerns have also been raised about the impact on teaching time, with reports of teachers losing up to 50 classroom hours to facilitate the tests. It is reasonable to question whether any information gained from carrying them out would be worth such a significant loss of teaching time.”

He added: “Teachers, parents and education charities have called for an end to primary one tests, and now a majority of MSPs have too.

“It is disappointing the SNP and independent councillors would not support plans to explore what options are available to us to halt these tests.”