Overhaul of school testing central to Sturgeon’s legislative programme

1 Sep 15

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out reforms to school testing as part of efforts to improve educational attainment in Scotland’s schools. The moves form part of the SNP administration’s last legislative programme before next May’s Holyrood elections.

Sturgeon said a new National Improvement Framework for schools was intended to help close current attainment gaps and ensure pupils were being equipped with the skills they need.

The framework will help track the progress of all children by introducing a national system of standardised assessment at three stages in primary school – primary 1, 4 and 7 – and in the third year of secondary school.

This standardised assessment will allow for progress to be tacked in literacy and numeracy across Scotland, Sturgeon said.

“Improving school attainment is arguably the single most important objective in this Programme for Government,” the first minister told MSPs.

“Improving it overall and closing the gap between children in our most and least deprived areas is fundamental to our aim of making Scotland fairer and more prosperous. To address it, we need to be open to innovation and new practice ­– that's the purpose of our £100m Attainment Fund.

“But we also need to have better information about attainment so that we measure progress consistently and drive change. We need to be able to see what’s working and where we still need to improve.”

The new assessments will be developed in partnership with local government, teachers and parents to replace the variety of different assessments already used by local authorities, she added. This would provide greater consistency to the development of the national Curriculum for Excellence.

“So they will not increase teacher workload – indeed, as a government, we are mindful of the need to reduce bureaucracy so that teachers can focus on what they do best: helping children to learn.”

Among the other policies set out in the statement, Sturgeon said integration of health and social care would be complete by April 2016, while new models of NHS primary care would be tested in ten sites across Scotland.

Following the resignation of Police Scotland chief constable Sir Stephen House last week, Sturgeon also said police governance would be reviewed and a new requirement on the Police Scotland chief to submit to greater local scrutiny.

The first minister also confirmed that in preparation for the devolution of income tax to Holyrood, a Scottish rate of income tax for 2016/17 would be set in the forthcoming Budget.

The full list of eight bills announced today is:

• Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill

• Bankruptcy Consolidation Bill

• Budget Bill

• Burial and Cremation Bill

• Lobbying Bill

• Private Tenancies Bill

• Scottish Elections (dates) Bill

• Scottish Fiscal Commission Bill


Did you enjoy this article?