CONTROVERSIAL tests for five-year-old are facing a shake-up after opposition from teachers and parents.

John Swinney, the Education Secretary, said a number of changes would be introduced to improve the literacy and numeracy assessments for P1 pupils.

Around one third of the bank of questions are to be replaced with questions of similar difficulty, but with a more familiar context.

Questions which have caused particular issues - such as one where pupils were asked for an alternative name for a Hummingbird’s beak - will be removed.

The assessments have also been redesigned to reduce the need for computer mouse skills, such as drag and drop.

In addition, an improvement forum is to be set up to look at all aspects of the P1 testing experience, while hints and tips on effective classroom management will be shared with teachers.

A Scottish Government review concluded that questions were “stage appropriate” and said there were no plans to change the range of difficulty.

In an open letter to parents of P1 children, Mr Swinney said he had listened to feedback and had agreed “enhancements”.

Mr Swinney said the assessments should be delivered as part of everyday learning and teaching adding: “They are absolutely not a test and should not feel like one,” he said.

“There is no pass or fail and there is no time limit. Each child can work at their own pace and there is no requirement for the assessment to be completed in one sitting,” he said.

However, the Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union said the move would do little to allay the “very serious concerns” of teachers.

EIS education convener Susan Quinn said: “Our members in schools have expressed a wide range of concerns ranging from the way in which they have been designed to the impact on the children who are being required to undertake these assessments.

“Many teachers, particularly those in the early stage of primary schools, have reported serious concerns over the stress that is being placed on young children.

“The review recommendations published today seem to be doing little to address these concerns.”

However, Mr Swinney said the government’s review had found children generally rated the assessments as accessible and stimulating, while teachers were pleased with the information they provided.

He added: “Training and advice for teachers will be improved and children undertaking the assessments will be asked for feedback. “Communication with parents is vital and the website information has been updated.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott described the review as “blatant spin” and called for a vote at Holyrood to halt the tests.

Labour’s Iain Gray said the assessments should be suspended for P1 pupils and reviewed for the rest of the school year.

The Conservatives’ Liz Smith added: “John Swinney should listen to the teaching profession and scrap them without delay.”