Publication of an expert report containing concerns about the Scottish Government's education reforms was held up for months and only released after the plans were announced.

The paper with the initial findings from the International Council of Education Advisers (ICEA) was finished in April but was not made public until July, after Education Secretary John Swinney confirmed plans for the controversial changes.

The report praised but also warned against becoming "too focused on changing the structure of the education system", suggesting "culture and capacity" are of greater importance.

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Documents released under Freedom of Information laws show the ICEA contacted civil servants seeking permission from Mr Swinney to publish the initial findings on April 11 but the report was not made public until July 25.

The Scottish Government said the hold-up was due to the purdah period surrounding the local government and general elections, and the findings were published as soon as was "appropriate and practicable", but Labour have accused the SNP of creating a "cloud of secrecy".

Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: "These are deeply troubling revelations.

"It is unacceptable that this report was kept hidden from the public and parliament until after John Swinney had forced through the reforms that his own advisers explicitly criticise.

"Scotland's teachers, pupils and parents deserve better than an SNP government forcing through Thatcherite education reforms amid a cloud of secrecy."

Mr Swinney unveiled the reforms which include increasing head teachers' power over staff and funding on June 15, a week after the general election but more than a month before the report was published.

The purdah period ahead of the local government elections came into force on April 13 and Holyrood was in recess at the time.

Information restrictions remained in place ahead of the general election and the document was published during the MSPs' summer holidays, after the ICEA chased it up on July 12, asking if Mr Swinney had made a decision and adding they were "keen to get the report published online as soon as possible".

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The initial report of the International Council of Education Advisers was published at the earliest appropriate and practicable opportunity following the local and general election periods."