Nicola Sturgeon has put education on the “backburner” while she agitates for another independence referendum, opposition leaders claimed.
The SNP leader was pulled up on the delay to her government’s Education Bill during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on Thursday.
The proposed legislation had been promised early this year but Education Secretary John Swinney said this week it would be published “sometime during 2017” so he can “chew over” responses to the consultation.
Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, said the SNP are “kicking the can down the road” on education reform.
“We’ve seen literacy standards slipping, we’ve seen numeracy standards sliding, we’ve seen Curriculum for Excellence failing, and now we’ve seen her Education Secretary stalling.
She keeps putting their referendum on the front foot but she’s putting everyone else’s child’s education on the back burner.”
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “Education was the First Minister’s defining mission. Isn’t it the case that education is defining this Government as indecisive and distracted?”
Ms Sturgeon said the SNP is improving the education system through measures including handing £120m directly to headteachers and the introduction of standardised assessments to arm teachers with data.
She added: “We will consider carefully the responses to that consultation and then John Swinney rightly and properly will come to this parliament and set out the way forward.”
The SNP leader accused Ms Davidson of trying to “shoehorn” independence into every debate when the “only reason there is any talk of that at all is the reckless behaviour of the Tories in taking us out of the European Union against our will”.