TEACHERS are threatening to boycott controversial new standardised national tests for Scottish pupils.

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union will discuss the issue at its annual general meeting later this week.

The Scottish Government has introduced the assessments for pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3 arguing that having a standardised approach is vital in helping them close the attainment gap in schools.

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SNP ministers believe there is insufficient data on pupil performance to allow them to compare schools, but critics warned publishing the results could lead to school staff teaching to the test.

As a result, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in January this year the results would not be published, but that curriculum levels pupils have reached would be issued instead.

However, teachers are still extremely sceptical over the benefits of standardised assessments in schools and are concerned the data will be used by government to compare schools even if it is not published.


A motion to the EIS conference from the Dumfries and Galloway local association says that if the Scottish Government imposes an unacceptable system of national testing "all members in primary and secondary schools will be balloted on a boycott of the administration and reporting of the test results". Another motion calls for an investigation into the workload impact of standardised assessments.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: "It is still very early and at the moment teachers don't know what these tests will look like and what the purpose will be.

"If it looks like the tests will be useful in helping teachers see where pupils need additional support then they are likely to be more acceptable, but there are a number of red lines.

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"If it looks like the tests are to be used as an accountability measure for the Scottish Government then there would be a lot of concern about that."

The EIS meeting in Dundee will also discuss industrial action over the spiralling workload following the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence and associated new exams.

A motion form the Glasgow local association calls for the EIS ruling council to organise an immediate ballot on industrial action, including strike action, over the lack of progress on cutting the workload of teachers.


The EIS meeting will also be addressed by the new Education Secretary John Swinney, who took over the role following the recent Scottish Parliament election.

Mr Swinney said: "It is my firm priority to ensure every young person in Scotland has the opportunity to achieve and prosper through their education, no matter their background. Teachers are critical to helping us achieve this ambition.

“Since becoming Education Secretary I have spoken directly to many teachers working across all stages of education about the key issues and challenges they are facing and the measures that could support them.

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"I have taken steps to address issues around workload, to help streamline unit assessments in national qualifications, and to ensure that teachers have clarity around what is expected of them."

Other motions at the EIS meeting will discuss a campaign to promote the right of pupils and staff to experience education in an environment free from disruptive and aggressive behaviour.

Another states that the union should investigate indiscipline problems in schools which are putting in place barriers to effective teaching and learning.

Teachers also want an inquiry into the recent Edinburgh schools controversy where many were closed as a result of concerns over their structure.