Two MSPs have clashed over the lack of involvement of a prominent critic of Curriculum for Excellence in a major review into the policy.
Professor Lindsay Paterson, of Edinburgh University, has long opposed the policy which was under scrutiny from the Organisation for Economy Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The review, which was commissioned by ministers, resulted in the Scottish Government deciding to scrap the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and look to reform Education Scotland – including by removing the power of inspection from the body.
Appearing before the Education, Children and Young People Committee at Holyrood, Dr Beatriz Pont, who works for the OECD, said they had originally planned to speak to Prof Paterson, but did not have time to do so.
Dr Pont said: “Lindsay Paterson was among our shortlist, but it was not possible to fit him, so we read his publication as well.”
Dr Pont went on to say it was important for the body to ensure that it didn’t become “overloaded”.
She added: “I think we covered a good number of academic perspectives, whether we met them or read their materials initially or during the review.”
The assertion enraged Tory MSP Oliver Mundell, who said: “Quite frankly I find it shocking that the OECD didn’t find the time to speak to Professor Paterson. I think he’s widely regarded in Scotland, by Scottish teachers, by parents, by many across academia.
“The idea that, as one of the leading critics of the current curriculum, his voice would not be included and his papers would only be read, I think confirms many of the concerns I’ve got.”
SNP MSP James Dornan came to the defence of the OECD review, saying: “I found the last intervention highly embarrassing for the committee.
“The OECD is an internationally respected organisation, Oliver seems to have this conspiracy theory that the Scottish Government have got power over all sorts of international bodies and that if they don’t do exactly as he wants, then there is some conspiracy is going on.
“It’s unacceptable for the OECD to be coming here in good faith, taking questions and then getting that type of abuse from a member.”
The committee’s convener, Stephen Kerr, himself a Tory MSP, replied: “I’m not sure we could say what occurred is abuse, but your point is made.”
Meanwhile, Romane Viannet, who also works with the OECD, said that standardised tests are not an effective way of measuring pupils progress.
Pupils undergo online tests in literacy and numeracy in primaries one, four and seven, as well as in S3 – but the practice has been controversial since its implementation in 2017.
In response to a question from Green MSP, Ross Greer, Ms Viannet said: “The argument that is made is not that (standardised testing) in particular is useless, it’s just that it is, maybe, not the most appropriate mechanism to use for curriculum for excellence or to measure curriculum for excellence’s impact on student learning.”