CONTROVERSIAL school tests for five-year-olds should be "fun and enjoyable" rather than causing distress, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said.

The comments came as pressure mounts on the Scottish Government to scrap the P1 literacy and numeracy assessments, which teachers said have left some pupils "shaking and crying".

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are already pressing for a parliamentary vote on the issue unless the assessments are scrapped before parliament returns to session in September.

The campaign is gathering support from across the political spectrum with the Scottish Labour Party pledging to support the move.

However, Mr Swinney, the Education Secretary, told The Herald government guidance on the administration of the assessments was clear there should be no distress.

He said: "All of the guidance that we have issued indicates that it should be undertaken in a relaxed fashion and it should most definitely not be undertaken in anything that resembles a stressful or high stakes testing environment. The guidance could not be clearer on that point.

"I have seen in my own experience young people being able to undertake activity in the classroom which is comparable to standardised assessments with exactly the same character and style which is in no way stressful and indeed is a fun and enjoyable part of the educational experience and that is what the guidance is designed to ensure is the case.

"If we need to look at the guidance again and reflect on the feedback to make sure the guidance is appropriate for the process then we will do that to guarantee young people have the type of educational experience we want them to have."

Mr Swinney went on to dismiss calls for the assessments to be scrapped in P1 arguing the information they provided to teachers was vital in driving improvements from the earliest age.

He said: "When we took forward standardised assessments we aligned them very closely to the levels of Curriculum for Excellence and to do that properly we need to have an assessment in relation to the early levels in P1.

"That helps us to identify what are the challenges and issues that young people have to overcome in their education and to make sure they get the support they need to enable that to happen.

"I want to have the earliest possible indication of challenges. I don't want to leave it for years because if we leave it for years it becomes a bigger problem to overcome."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon introduced the assessments for all pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3 as a response to concerns over falling standards of literacy and numeracy and a lack of consistent data across the country. However, critics claim they are too stressful for the youngest pupils.

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: "Teachers are telling ministers not to subject the next intake of four and five-year-olds to national testing.

"If the SNP government won't listen it will be up to parliament to put a stop to this. If these tests are not scrapped then we will press for a parliamentary vote on their abolition at the first opportunity."

The row came as tens of thousands of pupils are set to find out their exam grades.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) will publish National, Higher and Advanced Higher results for 135,000 pupils across the country - 59,000 if whom will get their results by text.

The SQA has reminded users to ensure their mobile phones are charged, have credit on them and that the correct phone number has been registered.