BATTLE lines are being drawn up over controversial proposals to hand more education funding direct to headteachers instead of councils.

READ MORE: SNP urged to outline school reform plans amid fears councils 'to be stripped' of education role

Local authority leaders have warned SNP proposals to give more funding directly to schools could damage the drive to improve attainment by restricting the use of funding.

However, Scotland's Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the plans, included in the party's election manifesto, would give "real power" to schools.

The row follows the publication of the manifesto which included broad proposals for a shake-up of the ways schools are run with the setting up of education regions.

In addition, the SNP intends to give more public money directly to headteachers to use on local priorities including moves to close the attainment gap between rich and poor.

Elaborating on the plans Mr Mackay said there was "nothing wrong" with local authorities running schools, but that "we can do things differently" in how schools are funded.

He said: "We've spoken about funding going direct to schools and that's different than has been the case before - realigning funding to ensure that those with the least in life receive the most support at school.

"There will be a different relationship in how education is delivered. We recognise that there's more to do to engage more with headteachers running the devolved management budgets."

However, David O’Neill, president of council umbrella body Cosla, described the comments as "not a very good start from the new Scottish Government" in terms of developing a relationship with local government.

He said: "I wish they would be more upfront about some of their thinking around education because then people would start to see what is being proposed and the implications of this.

“Scotland’s councils have a very good record on education. With all these positives, why are we getting statements from government that something has to be done on local authorities’ role in education?

"Attainment is improved by a number of factors, including excellent classroom practice, the quality of leadership in schools, the setting of high standards and scrutinising and evaluating delivery and supporting families so they can help their own children learn.

"Altering how schools are funded or run won’t change any of that, but it could make things worse by effectively ring-fencing money in the classroom that could go towards programmes in communities that help children at home."