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Nicola Sturgeon 'stumped by question aimed at five-year-olds' at First Minister's Questions

Conrad Landin reports from Holyrood

NICOLA STURGEON was left with no marks today after failing to answer an exam question designed for five-year-olds.

The First Minister stood flummoxed on the front bench after Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard asked her for “another word for a hummingbird’s beak.” Ms Sturgeon replied that she could “not immediately” provide the answer.

Mr Leonard said it was the example of a Scottish National Standardised Assessment question for primary school pupils — and an example of why the tests should be scrapped.

Educational charity Upstart has described the exam regime as an “adverse childhood experience,” and Mr Leonard quoted an anonymous teacher from Edinburgh who said it “runs completely counter to everything we have been trying to do.”

The Scottish Labour leader told MSPs: “Scotland’s teachers have told me how young confident children are ‘crushed’ by these tests and there have been reports of children being driven to tears. 

“These tests have been flawed from the very start. Delivered late, £2 million over budget and have led to weeks of valuable teaching time lost.

“Nicola Sturgeon should put pupils first and scrap these standardised tests for five-year-olds.”

Ms Sturgeon said she had not seen any children “in tears” or “crushed” on a recent school visit.

She charged that it was “shameful for Richard Leonard to come to this chamber and talk about [children] in these terms.”

She added: “I’m proud of what’s happening in Scottish education.”

Later on, Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman said the question on the hummingbird’s beak — correctly known as a bill — was in fact a multiple choice question.


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