TESTS for pupils in the first year of primary school should be scrapped, campaigners have said.

Charity Upstart Scotland said the new assessments were counterproductive and interfered with the natural way young children learnt through play.

The attack comes after the Scottish Government introduced new standardised national assessments for all pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3.

Read more: Pupils as young as five to sit new national tests

The tests were introduced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as a response to concerns over falling standards of literacy and numeracy and a lack of consistent data across the country.

However, critics argue the move to test pupils in the first year of primary school regime puts children and teachers under too much pressure.

Upstart Scotland said: "There is plenty of evidence that testing children at this age has no statistical reliability. It does, however, lead to greater concentration on specific skills teaching, growing anxiety on the part of parents, teachers and children and less time for what research tells us the under-sevens really need which is learning through play.

"As all early years practitioners know, assessment is an essential part of the job, but what we’re objecting to is the use of national standardised tests of literacy and numeracy skills at far too early a stage in children’s education.

"Most early years authorities would argue that age-related standards in literacy and numeracy are not appropriate for children under the age of seven and their introduction has reinforced the deeply-ingrained cultural belief in Scotland that, as soon as children start school, they should start work on the 3Rs."

The charity called for the tests to be scrapped and the importance of learning through play to be reinforced.

It added: "This would be a far more significant political move than data-collection about small children’s literacy and numeracy skills, especially when so many questions hang over the usefulness of the data in question."

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A Scottish Government spokeswoman said baseline testing was not new and that councils had been making use of it for many years in the first year of primary school.

She added: "Pupils have found the tests interesting and easy to do and the additional information they provide is extremely valuable for teachers to plan next steps for learning."