Letter to Primary 1 parents

August 28, 2018 by No Comments | Category Uncategorized

There has been some positive debate in recent weeks on the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA), particularly for primary 1 children.

I would like to explain what the assessments are for, and importantly what they are not. 

Like you and everyone at your school,  I want your child to get the best start in life and every help they might need to achieve their full potential.   I am a parent myself and I want to ensure that my son’s teachers have all the information they need to help him learn and progress.   Teachers use a range of evidence to build up a picture of every child’s progress.  The SNSA is one source of evidence on how your child is doing at school and what further help they might need.

Play is a vital part of the learning experience in P1. Play helps your child to explore, learn and develop. In P1 your child is learning to read, write and count. The P1 assessments relate directly to this experience. Your child will take two short assessments across literacy and numeracy, asking them some questions relevant to the level they are expected to achieve in P1 as part of Curriculum for Excellence.  The questions are multiple choice and audio is available as part of the assessment. 

Experience tells us that on average your child should spend less than one hour on these assessments over the whole school year.  I am listening to feedback and have agreed some enhancements to the assessments for this year, to provide extra reassurance to you and, most importantly, to enhance the experience of your child.   

The assessments should be delivered as part of everyday learning and teaching.  They are absolutely not a ‘test’ – and should not feel like one.  There is no pass or fail and there is no time limit.  Each child can work at their own pace and there is no requirement for the assessment to be completed in one sitting.  The arrangements for the assessment, including when and how it is taken, are at the discretion of the teacher and the needs of your child.

The results are not published. Following the assessment, your child’s teacher will be able to view a report to see how your child is progressing and consider the next steps in learning.  The literacy report will set out which of the essential tools for reading your child has developed and what they need to learn next in order to become a good reader.  Your child’s teacher should provide you with a rounded picture of how your child is progressing, drawing on all the available evidence, including the SNSA, classwork and observation.      

Crucially, this model of assessment is not new. The majority of local authorities have been carrying out a form of standardised assessment in P1 for many years.  The SNSA for the first time brings consistency across Scotland.

You can talk to your child’s school at any time about the SNSA or any other aspect of their education. Further information is also available at:

John Swinney,

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills



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