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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September 2003, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
School league tables to be scrapped
Teacher in classroom
A number of reforms will be announced
Traditional league tables are expected to be scrapped as the Scottish Executive unveiled plans for "radical" changes in schools.

Education Minister Peter Peacock said he wanted to give parents "more meaningful" information on their children's progress.

He also announced a series of steps to revamp the curriculum, including the replacement of the current system of tests for five to 14-year-olds.

He wants to see a "seamless" curriculum from the age of three through to 18.

Mr Peacock told a conference in Glasgow that the proposals signalled a "fundamental shift" in Scottish education.

It has not yet been settled exactly what will replace the league tables.


Government education departments in Scotland and in England do not publish league tables as such.

They publish the exam results for every school - allowing the news media to rank them in various ways.

In Wales and in Northern Ireland, such national sets of data are no longer produced.

Instead the information is made available locally to parents - and this might be the model Scotland adopts.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education and Skills in London said its tables - which cover primary schools as well as secondary schools - were "here to stay".

Peter Peacock with school pupil
We are not abandoning testing and assessment, we are not going soft on standards and we are not losing the only national measure of attainment
Peter Peacock
Education Minister

The annual publication of exam results from all of Scotland's schools has been criticised by teachers and parents' groups.

Mr Peacock told BBC Radio Scotland that the five to 14 tests were increasingly being used to measure the health of the education system as a whole.

"That has created a perverse incentive," he said.

"It has meant that teachers narrow the curriculum and can teach to the test to try to get better results, because that is what they are judged on.

"What we need to do is make sure we get back to the original purpose, teach to the curriculum guidelines, get the breadth of the curriculum we want and improve standards in Scottish education."

Delivering his keynote speech in Glasgow, Mr Peacock said the executive would replace the 5-14 annual attainment survey with a new Scottish Survey of Attainment (SSA).

More effective

"We are also proposing to replace the 5-14 national tests with more effective, pupil-focused assessment procedures," he said.

"Let me be clear - we are not abandoning testing and assessment, we are not going soft on standards and we are not losing the only national measure of attainment.

"We are putting in place a more effective assessment system, higher standards and more effective and rigorous ways to measure attainment across Scotland."

We all want to refocus on teaching and learning and get away from the assessment-driven curriculum
Ronnie Smith
EIS general secretary
He said the emphasis should be on formative assessment, which focuses on improving learning in the interests of the child rather than on national data collection.

"We are also proposing new annual progress plans that will give parents more meaningful information on how their children are progressing at school," he said.

Mr Peacock argued that exam results provided a one-dimensional look at a school's performance.

Parents would still want to see those results - but he said they also wanted to see information on areas like attendance records, exclusions and the performance in music, drama and sport.

These changes will take place alongside a new-look curriculum.

Current system

"We need to increase pupil choice and make the curriculum more relevant to every pupil, no matter where their strengths lie," he said.

A steering group has been created to agree the underlying principles for reforming the curriculum, which will go out to consultation.

Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), welcomed the moves to ending the current system of 5-14 testing.

"We all want to refocus on teaching and learning and get away from the assessment-driven curriculum which has been distorting good classroom practice for too long," he said.

Education Minister Peter Peacock
"Exam results on their own are a one-dimensional look at schools"

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