MINISTERS are to press ahead with controversial plans to transfer more power to Scottish schools despite opposition from councils.

The SNP's Programme for Government, unveiled yesterday in the Scottish Parliament, said the proposals - which will also see more cash given direct to headteachers - would form part of a school governance review this autumn.

In August, Cosla, the umbrella body for councils, described the plan as a "radical departure" which would "undermine" the role of local authorities and increase bureaucracy.

However, the programme for government states: "Currently, legal responsibilities for delivering education and raising standards in our schools sit largely with education authorities, not with the schools and teachers that teach our children and young people every day.

"The governance review will start with the presumption that decisions about individual children’s learning and school life should be taken at school level and will explore how support at every level of our education system can be aligned to deliver that empowerment and drive improvement."

The document said the review would examine the changes required to "empower schools, decentralise management, establish school clusters and create new educational regions".

In parallel, there will be a review of the impact of existing legislation to involve parents in schools to ensure families, as well as teachers, are the "key decision makers".

On the issue of new national tests for primary and secondary pupils the document says assessments to help close the attainment gap between rich and poor will be trialled before the end of the year and will be used by all school from 2017/18.

Although the results of these assessments will not be published, the academic levels pupils have achieved under the Curriculum for Excellence will be made public in December - which could lead to the publication of primary school league tables.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "We will publish the first school by school information on the numbers of children meeting the required levels of Curriculum for Excellence in December - that will tell us more accurately what the extent of the attainment gap is and allow us to set clear targets for closing it."

In the early years, the government intends to double the amount of free care available to all three and four-year-olds and the most disadvantaged two year-olds by 2020.