RUTH Davidson’s Tories have been blasted by the SNP for behaving like “shameless opportunists” over P1 testing.

The party are to use their business slot in Holyrood next Wednesday to debate a motion on the practice of testing Scotland’s four and five year olds.

With the Tories, Labour, LibDems and Greens all opposed, the government will almost certainly face defeat, but it would not be legally binding.

In a heated exchange at First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon accused Davidson of caring more about politics than school children.

Davidson said the government had “proved timid and weak in improving our schools”.

The Tory MSP asked: “The First Minister says that education is her top priority, but is the truth not that, when she is put to the test — any test — she fails?”

The SNP leader read out part of the Tory 2016 Holyrood election manifesto where it welcomed “the Scottish Government’s recent decision to reintroduce national testing in primary schools”.

Sturgeon went on: “Yet I understand next week the Scottish Conservatives are going to bring forward a motion for the abolition of standardised assessments at P1. The hypocrisy on these matters is breath-taking.”

She continued: “What we see from the Conservatives is that they are shameless opportunists, they do not care.

“They care only about short-term political opportunity, they care not a jot about the school children, they care not a jot about standards in our schools, I think Ruth Davidson has revealed that yet again today.”

The SNP leader added: “I want to see parents have more information about the performance of their children, that is why we have standardised the assessments that were previously in place, including at P1, in order that we are ensuring that teachers know whether young people are meeting the benchmarks set by Curriculum for Excellence.”

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie, who has long criticised the assessments, said Sturgeon was refusing to listen to teachers and teaching union the EIS.

“Just last week the First Minister said she was listening to teachers, now she’s ignoring them.

“The evidence is mounting – 170 pages of searing criticism from teachers, a damning letter from the EIS, the waste of resource, the useless value of the information, the high-stakes environment, the slippery path to league tables.

“Teachers are very clear, they’ve said the tests should go, the union has said the tests should go.”

Sturgeon said the government would make the case for the tests “rigorously and robustly”, adding that she had a “difference of opinion” with the EIS on the issue.

She stated: “I have spoken to many teachers who also have a difference of opinion about assessments. I want to see us raise standards in Scottish education and I want to see us close the attainment gap, and we need data to inform the action we take to do that, so I will continue to make what I think is the common-sense argument for this and I look forward to the debate continuing.”

Meanwhile, Labour’s Richard Leonard asked the First Minister to apologise for the 25,000 referrals for mental health treatment for young people which have been rejected in the past four years. “Will the First Minster admit that she has been too slow to act, that she has let these children and young people down for over a decade, and will she today offer them an apology?” he asked.

Sturgeon offered an apology to “any patient, whether they are an adult or a child, who is not seen by the NHS, whether for mental health problems or physical health problems, as quickly as they should be, and I say that unreservedly.”