The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest union for teachers and lecturers representing 80% of Scotland’s teachers, has responded to a speech expected to be given by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie today, in which he will call for the school starting age to rise to six or seven.

An EIS Spokesperson said, “The EIS AGM agreed last year to investigate the opportunities and challenges associated with a change to the school starting age through a possible move to a kindergarten model of early years education. This work is ongoing, and we will be seeking the views of our members in early years and primary establishments as part of this process.”

The spokesperson also stated, “Other countries whose children start school later have universal pre-school provision, something we don’t have in this country. Scotland’s teachers are increasingly marginalised in pre-school services, despite the research evidence that shows meaningful access to a teacher enhances a child’s learning opportunities and reduces the impact of poverty.”

Mr Rennie is also expected to address the controversy surrounding Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs), particularly for P1 pupils, and will voice support for parents and teachers who wish to boycott P1 assessments.

The EIS has previously voiced concerns over Standardised Testing following a survey to gauge members’ views on the first year of SNSAs, which identified a wide range of concerns over the value of assessments and their impact on pupils.

While the EIS is supportive of assessment being used to aid learning and believes that teacher judgement should be central to assessment policy, the evidence gathered from EIS members shows that teachers were afforded little to no professional judgement in determining the timing of SNSAs for the children in their classes.

Commenting, an EIS spokesperson said, “The EIS fully supports the right of parents to opt their children out of the P1 standardised assessments. Where parents have concerns or state a clear wish to opt their children out of SNSAs, teachers would advise that parents make this known to the Headteacher of the school, either orally or in writing."