JOHN Swinney has rejected opposition pleas to scrap the Government’s controversial tests for P1s.

His decision to carry on came as an independent review into the Scottish National Standardised Assessments said they had the “potential to play a significant role in informing and enhancing teachers’ professional judgements and should be continued”.

The LibDems said the probe, led by literacy expert David Reedy, was a “stitch-up”.

Labour accused Swinney of extreme arrogance.

Every year pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3 complete online standardised assessments in literacy and numeracy. The purpose is to identify progress, and to provide “diagnostic information to support teachers’ professional judgement”.

But they have been much criticised by teachers and opposition MSPs. Last September, Labour, the Tories, the LibDems and the Greens joined forces in Holyrood to call for them to be stopped.

In his report, Reedy said the review found that “P1 SNSA has potential to play a significant role in informing and enhancing teachers’ professional judgements and should be continued with modification and safeguards against a drift towards high stakes.

“However, some important issues remain to be addressed including the view from some teachers and headteachers that introduction of the P1 SNSA undervalues professionalism.

“Questions also remain about the purpose for collecting P1 SNSA data at national and local authority level and how the P1 SNSA will contribute to narrowing the poverty related attainment gap.”

Swinney told MSPs: “The review has now concluded that the assessments should continue, that they can play a significant role in informing and enhancing teachers’ professional judgement – the very reason these assessments were introduced – and that there is scant evidence of children becoming upset when taking part.

“I do not suggest the review has delivered an unqualified green light to the Scottish Government in terms of P1 assessments, clearly it makes important recommendations about improvement and I am determined to take the valuable learning within the report and act upon it.”

Labour’s Iain Gray said Swinney was defying the will of Holyrood: “The Parliament said in September that testing Primary 1 pupils must end, yet the SNP Government continues to ignore that decision.

“The review reflects many of parliament’s concerns, including the lack of a clear rationale for the tests. It says the results cannot provide national data or compare school with school in the way ministers have repeatedly said they could.

“Parliament was right in September and it is still right today. The testing of Primary 1 pupils should stop.”

LibDem MSP Tavish Scott said the recommendation in the Reedy review would add to the workload for schools: “This review is a stitch-up. Teachers, unions, parent groups and Parliament have all called for a halt to the testing of four and five-year-old boys and girls.

“But the Education Secretary wants them to continue, so he’s commissioned a review that will prove himself right.

“Teachers already have far too much on their plates. They’ve made clear that these tests waste ridiculous amounts of classroom time.”