PRIMARY teachers are losing around two weeks-worth of classroom time trying to oversee new tests for five-year-olds, it has been claimed.

One teacher in Edinburgh said they had spent around 70 hours administering the Scottish Government’s standardised tests on their school’s 54 primary one pupils.

It comes as ministers came under increasing pressure to scrap the assessments amid claims some children have been reduced to tears.

In an email sent to Scottish Labour MSP Iain Gray, the Edinburgh primary teacher said they had overseen 30 hours of testing for numeracy and 40 for literacy.

They added: “The amount of progress that could have been delivered if those hours were used for effective teaching is significant and instead we were required to use that time to run testing which…is problematic in almost every regard.”

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

But critics insist testing pupils in the first year of primary – as well as in P4, P7 and S3 – piles too much pressure on children and teachers.

Raising the issue at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said teachers had told him that young, confident children had been “crushed” by the assessments.

Calling for them to be scrapped, he said: “At SNP conference John Swinney claimed that we are seeing the start of a renaissance in Scottish education. This ‘renaissance’ is driving primary school children 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.”

In their email, the Edinburgh teacher – whose identity has been kept anonymous to protect their job – also raised a number of issues with the design and wording of the tests.

They wrote: “Many of the questions in the tests are very poorly phrased – often at best they are ambiguous and at worst they are so badly written that they are actually misleading.”

In one example, children were presented with the problem: “Jane had six grapes on her plate, she ate three of them, choose Jane’s plate”.

The teacher said the phrasing of the question made it unclear whether pupils should choose the half-eaten plate, or the original.

They also noted that out of the 54 pupils tested, “not one child came out as low on the numeracy test, even though some of them only gave a handful of correct answers”.

They added: “The only conclusion I can reach having watched this process from beginning to end is that these tests have been set up to give a deliberately vague picture which broadly supports the idea that the attainment gap is closing.

“I cannot use the data from these tests to support my teaching in any way. It does not provide reliable information on any aspect of my children’s learning or development.”

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said many of the concerns raised by the teacher had also been brought up by other members.

He said primary teachers faced a logistical challenge as they administered the tests, which require pupils to have access to computers.

He added: “We had people at the [latest] conference talking about children being distressed.”

Responding to Mr Leonard at FMQs, Ms Sturgeon said: “We are determined, as I have said on so many occasions, to continue to raise standards in our schools, and to close the attainment gap.

“And being able to assess, in an age-appropriate way, how our young people are doing in school is an important part of that. We will continue to work hard to make sure we do that.”