JOHN Swinney has been mocked after inviting politicians to a drop-in session where his officials will demonstrate controversial tests for five-year-olds.

The Education Secretary wrote to every MSP in Holyrood in a bid to defend standardised assessments for primary one pupils.

He asked them to attend a “drop-in demonstration of the Scottish National Standardised Assessments” on Tuesday, adding: "The demonstration will be conducted by Scottish Government officials."

He wrote: “The demonstration will offer the opportunity to view an example of the P1 assessment, as well as the chance to see the information it generates for teachers.

“In order to ensure parliament’s consideration of this issue is as informed as possible, I do hope you will be able to attend.”

It comes as opposition leaders are expected to join forces next week to vote for the tests to be scrapped.

Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray branded Mr Swinney’s latest move “desperate”.

He said: “The idea that civil servants performing the tests to MSPs is in any way equivalent to the pressure felt by a four-year-old sitting them is utter nonsense.

“If John Swinney truly wants an informed debate he should listen to the calls from teachers and educationalists who say the tests are useless, or the parents of traumatised children who do not trust them.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the offer was “odd”.

He said: "I am much more interested in what teachers and parents have to say about these tests than I am in watching John Swinney's civil servants push buttons on a screen.

"Teachers, campaigners and EIS Scotland have lambasted these tests as a waste of effort yet the Education Secretary is point blank refusing to listen.

"The clock is now ticking down until Parliament votes to scrap them. The only question left to answer is whether John Swinney will then do the right thing and change course."

Next week’s vote is expected to be brought forward by the Scottish Tories.

While a Holyrood defeat would not be binding for the SNP Government, it would be politically difficult to ignore.

The literacy and numeracy tests have sparked a huge backlash from parents, teachers and unions since they were brought in last year.

Children are assessed in P1, P4, P7 and S3 to help teachers judge their progress, but there have been claims some five-year-olds have been reduced to tears.

Mr Swinney previously announced a shake-up of the assessments, insisting they are “absolutely not a test and should not feel like one”.