Minister for Education Mary Hanafin has launched a new set of guidelines for primary school teachers and schools.

The guidelines include information on standardised testing, which will be carried out on children at the end of first class and at the end of fourth class.

The document has been drawn up by the National Council for Curriculum Assessment and will inform teachers on how best to assess pupils' progress through their school years.

The aim of assessing children is to ensure they are progressing well, meeting their potential and supporting them in making decisions about their future learning.

The guidelines also cover reporting to parents, and say that parents should be informed about their children's progress twice during the year, with at least one written report.

According to the minister, children will not all be assessed on the same day and students will not be able to study for the tests.

The publication is the result of widespread consultation, research conducted in Ireland and abroad, and discussion and debate at the level of council.

The document will be distributed to all teachers in the coming weeks.