Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has this week warned that Scottish Government Education proposals mount to micro-managing of local authorities.

Mr McArthur made his comments following a meeting of the Education Committee this week during which members considered the Education (Scotland) Bill.

In particular Mr McArthur highlighted Ministers’ rushed policy on teaching hours, one which has been criticised by COSLA and many individual local councils.

Speaking after the meeting Mr McArthur said:

“The government’s last-minute amendment to legislate on teaching hours shows the Cabinet Secretary is making it up as she goes along. At no stage was the committee informed that these changes were likely to be brought forward and no evidence has been taken on the policy, cost and wider implications.

“It is another example of Ministers wanting to micro-manage what happens in schools, reducing flexibility for local authorities and head teachers, including those in Orkney, to respond to the needs of children, young people and parents.”

Mr McArthur also moved an amendment to the bill to remove the provision of national standardised testing of primary pupils, which has been roundly criticised by teaching unions, individual teachers and children's groups.

On the possible introduction of national standardised testing he said:

“Teaching unions have denounced the idea of national standardised testing as a backward step and few teachers have a good word to say about it.

“Assessment is a necessary part of teaching, but the Scottish education system has no shortage of data, particularly at classroom and school level. National standardised tests in literacy and numeracy simply will not provide a rounded evaluation of student learning.

“A blunt, one-size-fits-all policy goes completely against the whole ethos of Curriculum for Excellence. It seems inevitable that teaching to the test and league tables will be the consequence of introducing national standardised testing in this way.”


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