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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Meeting of the Parliament 23 April 2019

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Social Security and In-work Poverty, Committee Announcement, Business Motion, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Open University at 50


Committee Announcement

We turn to the next item of business. I am pleased to call Clare Adamson, convener of the Education and Skills Committee, to make an announcement on Scottish national standardised assessments.


Thank you, Presiding Officer, for this opportunity to highlight to Parliament on behalf of the Education and Skills Committee our “Report on Scottish National Standardised Assessments”.

The committee agreed to undertake an inquiry on the evidence base for the recently introduced Scottish national standardised assessments in literacy and numeracy in primary 1, primary 4, primary 7 and secondary 3. The committee report, which was agreed to unanimously, includes a series of recommendations, some of which I wish to draw to the Parliament’s attention this afternoon.

The committee notes that evidence from certain witnesses to the inquiry reflected that the Scottish Government announced the policy quickly, without meaningful collaboration with certain key stakeholders or establishing an in-depth evidence base for elements of the policy. The committee considers that the Scottish Government should reflect on that evidence and learn lessons for future policy development.

We examined whether the assessments are low stakes, and we recommend that they are prevented from becoming medium stakes, for example by seeking checks and balances from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education. The committee also recommends that the Scottish Government and its agencies acknowledge explicitly the summative function of the assessments in future communications.

We were interested in the costs of the policy, including an estimate of its cost over five years and details of the basis for the overspend. We have sought an assessment of the likely reduction in the use of local authority-level standardised assessments by the end of the first three academic years of the SNSAs, and the associated saving at local government level.

We recommend that the Scottish Government undertakes an assessment of the workload implications for teachers and other school staff.

At local authority level, the committee heard positive evidence of tangible examples of how SNSA data is contributing towards improvements and we would welcome an update from the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland on further examples at the end of this academic year.

On national performance data, including the replacement of the Scottish survey of literacy and numeracy with the achievement of curriculum for excellence levels, the committee is concerned that decisions on national performance data have generated a data gap of at least five years, with no guarantee that the gap will not be longer.

We also examined information and communications technology implications in relation to data literacy. For those and other recommendations, I would encourage members to look at the report to see our detailed examination of those areas.

We look forward to receiving the Government’s response on this important issue. I thank all those who contributed to the work of the committee and the clerks for their support.