Page last updated at 00:20 GMT, Monday, 5 January 2009

Tories want tougher primary tests

primary classroom
The Tories want tougher literacy and numeracy tests in primary schools

The Tories have called for more rigorous testing in primary schools amid concern over literacy and numeracy levels in Scotland.

Conservative schools spokeswoman Liz Smith MSP said testing at primary level could detect such problems early on.

She said plans to introduce new tests in S4 would not tackle the problem.

A spokesman for the Scottish government said that better teaching and learning was the way to improve skills rather than more testing.

Ms Smith said the 3Rs should be tested as part of whatever new national S4 exam follows Standard Grade and Intermediate level, and not as a stand-alone unit.

She added: "By S4, pupils should be able to apply the 3Rs meaningfully to all subject areas, something that is desperately important if we are to raise academic standards across the board.

Acceptable standards

"The first signs of literacy and numeracy problems almost always develop in primary school and that is why I think we should be more rigorous in our testing of these skills at primary."

She added: "At present, it is far too easy for pupils in Scotland to progress from primary school to secondary school even if they are failing to reach anything like acceptable standards in literacy and numeracy.

"This is doing both them and the education system a great disservice."

A Scottish government spokesman said plans to cut class sizes in the first three years of primary school would ensure more time and attention is given to literacy and numeracy in the early years.

He stated: "Better teaching and learning in primary school is the best way to improve literacy and numeracy skills and not simply through more testing."

"With the introduction of the new curriculum, this will be the first time all teachers will have responsibility for improving the literacy and numeracy skills of all children."

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