Don’t use testing to rank school performance

Don’t use testing to rank school performance, say Scottish school improvement officers

School improvement professionals urged the Scottish government today (Wednesday) not to use national testing to rank the performance of primary schools.

The call came in a statement from the Aspect group of Prospect, the union representing school improvement officers and other senior education professionals.

Group executive committee members Tommy Doherty and Paul Watson said: “The government has cited drops in performance revealed in a recent literacy survey as a major factor in its decision. But re-introducing standardised national testing is not a way to raise standards. Weighing the pig does not fatten it.

“Furthermore, it would increase the workload of teachers and pupils and only provide crude comparative data on schools.”

Doherty and Watson accept that assessment is integral to supporting effective learning but pointed out it can take many forms – oral questioning, discussing with pupils to check their understanding, as well as tests.

“There is more to a school’s performance than raw data. For example the demographics of its catchment area can be very significant. Using data to compare schools serving similar communities could support improvement.

“But schools in affluent areas may achieve ‘good’ test results without challenging their pupils sufficiently, while those in more deprived areas could be significantly improving children’s educational experience, even where results are relatively ‘poor’.

“The key to improving schools’ performance is to increase investment in local authorities, so they can provide practical support and development to teachers and managers.”

Read their full statement at


For further information contact:

Paul Watson 07815306517(m); 01343 563119 (home)

Tommy Doherty 07718 096503 (mob)

Penny Vevers (Prospect comms officer) 020 7902 6606 (w); 07713 511710 (m)