A BACK-to-school campaign has been launched – to help parents take primary one pupils out of national testing.

The postcard push by education campaigners Upstart Scotland began yesterday as term started in areas including Fife, Renfrewshire and Glasgow .

The Scottish Government says parents and guardians do not have the "formal legal right" to withdraw youngsters from assessments and should talk to teachers about concerns.

READ MORE: The lessons Gaelic schools can teach us about learning

But Upstart, which has the backing of teaching union EIS and parents organisation Connect, disputes this.

Founder Sue Palmer, a former primary headteacher, said: "Parents are entitled to opt their children out but the government has not publicised the fact – in fact, they seem to have gone out of their way to conceal it.

"Many parents will want to withdraw their children from the tests because they’re worried it will distress them. But we hope parents will also opt out to show they believe that ‘Play Not Tests for P1’ is in the interests of all Scottish children, now and in the future."

Postcards will be available from Upstart Scotland and the organisations endorsing the campaign, including EIS, Connect, Play Scotland, Children in Scotland and ACE-Aware Nation.

Organisers hope parents will hand them in to schools to remove their children from national standardised assessments.

The measure replaces a patchwork of local tests and is aimed at monitoring literacy and numeracy.

However, EIS says some children have been distressed by the process since it was introduced last year and all Holyrood opposition parties have called on the SNP administration to scrap it for the youngest pupils.

In one fractious session of First Minister's Questions before the summer recess, Labour leader Richard Leonard challenged Nicola Sturgeon to answer posers set for primary ones, asking her to give an alternative name for a hummingbird's beak.

However, the Scottish Government said this was given in a multiple choice format, with the correct answer "bill" presented along with other options "skin" and "body".

Yesterday former Children's Commissioner Tam Baillie, now an Upstart Scotland trustee, said: "International evidence shows that the under-sevens need a play-based approach to learning with plenty of opportunities for active, outdoor, social, self-directed play. "This is even more important now children have so few opportunities for outdoor play during their out-of-school hours. Testing P1 on the 3Rs pulls Scottish education in exactly the opposite direction."

Meanwhile, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "The EIS is sceptical about the worth of standardised assessments generally but we're particularly opposed to their introduction for P1 pupils.

"They bring a rigid formality to assessment at a stage where the judgements of teachers, based on observation of child-centred learning, are all that's needed to identify and address the developmental needs of the infants."

However, a spokesperson for the Scottish Government countered: "The assessments are part of everyday learning and teaching.

"As has been the case for decades, for almost all teaching and learning there is no formal legal right for parents to withdraw their child from individual elements of that teaching and learning.

"However, as the Scottish government has always maintained, if a parent did not wish their child to take part in an aspect of teaching and learning, they should discuss this with the school, who have discretion available to them to decide whether the child then takes part in any given activity."

READ MORE: Swinney: I’m listening on tests for five-year-olds

The postcard campaign is backed by a two minute animation posted on social media setting out the reasoning behind the Play Not Tests campaign.

Palmer, who advocates the introduction of a Finnish-style kindergarten stage between nursery and formal education, said: "Due to Scotland’s extraordinarily early school starting age, our P1s will be sitting tests at an age when the overwhelming majority of European children aren’t even at school."