CONTROVERSIAL tests for five-year-olds will be reformed after concerns they left children distressed, the Scottish Government has said.

John Swinney, the Education Secretary, said improved guidance for teachers would help them support children during the assessments.

Mr Swinney said the reforms would help ensure the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs) could be delivered in a way that was compatible with a play-based classroom environment.

And he said it would be made clear the tests were not "high stakes" and were intended to help teachers with their judgements of a child's progress.

READ MORE: Primary school testing is not child abuse

The changes are outlined in a report from the P1 Practitioner Forum, which included primary teachers, which was set up to look at the assessments after their controversial introduction.

Mr Swinney said: "I would like to thank the forum for their recommendations, which are grounded in the realities of teaching P1 and are informed by their own experiences and professional knowledge.

“We will work to make immediate improvements where we can to enhance the experience of both learners and educators and ensure the assessments can continue to be delivered as part of everyday learning and teaching.

“Standardised assessments are an effective additional tool to support teacher professional judgement and identify next steps in a child’s learning."

Mr Swinney said the assessments were "particularly useful" in the early years to help close the attainment gap. 

READ MORE:  Primary pupils left 'shaking and crying' by P1 tests

Forum chairwoman Professor Sue Ellis, from Strathclyde University, said: "It is important people listen carefully to what these imaginative and experienced P1 teachers have to say. 

“They offer plenty of good ideas about how to make the SNSAs work in practice and the report contains useful advice as well as recommendations for the future."

The decision to establish the forum was taken in advance of the separate decision to set up an independent review of P1 assessments led by David Reedy.