If recent history is anything to go by the phrase “exceptional circumstances” could mean anything but.

The term has been used to impress upon schools that withdrawing pupils from standardised assessments should only apply in a handful of cases.

That is clearly of benefit to the Scottish Government because any mass exodus would not only prove hugely embarrassing, it would also make the whole process of testing in P1 rather pointless.

What remains to be seen is how parents and schools interpret the phrase.

In 2016 John Swinney, the Education Secretary, allowed schools to use a form of internal assessment called units to give pupils a safety net “in exceptional circumstances”.

In fact, the instruction was comprehensively ignored and some 10,000 pupils were awarded National 4 qualifications as a result of passing the unit assessments.

It remains to be seen whether the current campaign to encourage parents to opt out of the P1 tests will have the desired affect.

Despite concerns over the distress caused to some pupils, other schools have reported no such issues.

However, should parents want to opt out in significant numbers, even after discussing the issue with schools, is it the Scottish Government’s expectation that headteachers will ignore them?

That would be counterproductive to the sort of positive community relations schools are trying to foster.

It would also be an uncomfortable position for the Scottish Government at a time when Education Secretary John Swinney has launched a £350,000 project to encourage parents to get more involved in the day to day life of schools.