Councillors who voted to scrap standardised tests for five year-olds introduced by the Scottish Government have been accused of playing politics.

Fife Council abandoned the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs) in P1 after local members of the Labour and Conservative parties out-voted the SNP on the issue.

However, rather than abandon tests altogether the council has decided instead to return to its previous form of assessment - which will see even more testing in P1.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union, said the decision had been taken with no thought for pupils.

He said: “While we welcome Fife Council’s decision to scrap SNSAs for P1, this should not be at the cost of a return to Fife’s previous system of over-using other forms of standardised assessments - every year and with all age groups.

“If the council is serious about ensuring that all assessment genuinely supports learning and is committed to relieving the pressure that standardised assessment places on pupils, they should not be replacing SNSAs with a model that is potentially more damaging.”

“This type of party-politicking on such an important issue is unhelpful and adds nothing to the broader educational debate on the value, or lack of value, of standardised assessments as a tool to support learning and teaching.”

The Fife vote comes after the Scottish Government introduced new standardised national assessments for all pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3.

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

However, critics argue the move to test pupils, particularly in the first year of primary school, is counterproductive and can be upsetting.

Sue Palmer, chair of the charity Upstart Scotland, which has opposed testing, said they were delighted with the move on SNSAs, but concerned at the intention to revert to the previous system.

She said: “There’s growing international evidence that any standardised assessment of specific literacy skills is damaging for such young children.

“Indeed, this summer both China and Singapore abandoned ‘academic’ testing for children under seven.”

Meanwhile, moves to halt P1 testing in Glasgow were put on hold after concerns the council would not have the power to stop headteachers from using them.

Labour, Conservatives and the Greens voted to end the assessments, but council officials said they could not force school leaders to follow any action.