PLANS for national tests for Scottish pupils will fail to close the attainment gap between rich and poor, teachers have warned.

The country’s largest teaching union also said the controversial proposals would increase school bureaucracy and workload.

The attack from the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced all pupils would sit standardised national tests in literacy and numeracy by 2017.

Pupils will be tested three times in primary school and again in the third year of secondary as part of a drive to improve standards.

Following a meeting of EIS executive members at the weekend the union “re-affirmed” its opposition to national testing - just days after the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association said it could take industrial action.

Larry Flanagan, EIS general secretary, said: “The executive was emphatic in restating its long held opposition to national testing which it believes will have a profoundly negative impact on Scottish education, entrench inequalities in our schools, and reverse the progress made.

“While the Scottish Government has been very careful to state its plans would not mean a return to the failed testing regime of the past, it is clear Scotland’s teachers are not convinced.

“The EIS shares the First Minister’s desire to close the attainment gap, but we are certain the introduction of a national system of standardised assessment is not the answer.”

Mr Flanagan said the move appeared to be driven by a desire on the part of Scottish Government to "take control of education" nationally rather than allow local authorities to be responsible for delivery.

However, the Scottish Government said the new National Improvement Framework, which is currently being devised, would look at a range of evidence on children’s progress including testing.

A spokeswoman said: "This new system will help reduce the burden of assessment on teachers and children, building on best practice and replacing the wide variety of approaches taken by local authorities with a new streamlined, consistent one.

“As the First Minister said last week this is not a return to the national testing of old."

Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative young people spokeswoman Liz Smith accused the EIS of “changing its tune” on testing after Mr Flanagan described the use of some tests as a “useful tool” in a statement last week.

She said: “Now the EIS appears to have U-turned completely. Testing is an essential way of making sure pupils and schools are performing as they should.”

The move to introduce national tests, scrapped in Scotland in 2003 by the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition, comes amidst falling standards revealed by the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy.

However, critics fear the introduction of a single test allowing direct comparison between schools serving different communities undermines education because those which do not perform as well are automatically seen as “failing”, even though they may be doing an outstanding job for their pupils.

There are also fears councils will use test results to judge teacher performance rather than pupil progress, which leads to school staff focusing all their efforts on “teaching to the test” to get as many pupils through at the expense of their wider education.