Isla O'Reilly, Education, Children and Young People spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP candidate for Highlands and Islands, today (Sun 14 Feb) reiterated concerns about national testing in primary and secondary schools in light of a poll showing most Scots think smaller class sizes are more important.

The Scottish Government wants local authorities to test reading, writing and numeracy in P1, P4, P7 and S3 with results published nationally each year. Parents, unions and experts including Stirling University's School of Education have expressed concerns about such testing, including that it will cause anxiety for pupils and staff, and lead to a league table culture that causes stress for families.

A poll of 1,000 Scots commissioned by the Scottish Greens shows that when asked to choose which is more likely to improve Scottish education - national testing or smaller class sizes - national testing receives just 21 per cent support, with smaller class sizes supported by 3 times as many people at almost 60 per cent.

The Scottish Greens have repeatedly highlighted the fact that class sizes are the biggest they've been since the SNP formed the Government in 2007. Greens have also spoken out against cuts to additional support needs provision and strongly support the campaign to reduce teacher workload.

This week, to highlight their education priorities, Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP and Education spokesperson Isla O'Reilly will meet with parents and children in Inverness tomorrow (Monday) and meet with students and staff at Elgin Academy on Tuesday.

Isla O'Reilly, Education, Children and Young People spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP candidate for Highlands and Islands, said:

"Class sizes are clearly the priority for the Scottish public and have been a consistent priority for the Scottish Greens.  Far too many teachers are burning out due to unacceptable workloads, and investing in staff would be a more effective way to tackle the attainment gap.

"I considered training as a secondary school teacher but the advice I got from friends in the profession made me reconsider. Testing won't reduce workload; indeed it may increase it. Teachers need time to teach - that's what they're good at. More teachers and smaller classes will mean teachers can get to know their pupils and bring out the best in them."

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:

"As we approach the election for a parliament that will run until 2021, the need for constructive challenge to the Scottish Government is vital. Greens believe the return to national testing goes against the good intentions of Curriculum for Excellence, which is supposed to consider the whole child.

"Scotland can do better for our young people but we need bolder ideas at Holyrood to properly address the inequality in our society. The Scottish Greens see the need to support children right from the start with help for parents during pregnancy through to good jobs and better wages, and affordable housing and transport. And once a child has passed through the education system they need a guarantee of further education, training or work. With more Green voices at Holyrood, Scotland can do this."


The poll of 1,033 Scots was carried out by Survation in January and asked this question with the following results:

Two suggestions to improve performance in schools would be to reduce class sizes to give teachers more contact time with pupils or to standardise national testing to be able to better compare performance between pupils. In terms of their relative importance, which of the following do you think would improve Scottish education the most?

Reducing class sizes - 58.3 per cent
Standardising national testing - 21 per cent 
Neither - 9 per cent
Don't know - 11.7 per cent