Disadvantaged pupils have improved their exam results, but the attainment gap is getting wider, according to new figures.

Official data from last summer’s exam results shows pupils from the poorest neighbourhoods have seen a 1.4 per cent improvement in overall attainment.

However, those from the most affluent neighbourhoods have seen attainment rise by nearly two per cent.

The Scottish Government has made closing the attainment gap a defining mission of its time in office.

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The figures also reveal the individual performance of schools across Scotland which The Herald has compiled into a list of the country’s top 50 state schools for exam results at Higher.

Jordanhill School, in the west end of Glasgow, is in first place followed by Dunblane High School, in Stirlingshire. Schools from East Renfrewshire make up the rest of the top five.

Commenting on the attainment gap figures, Liz Smith, education spokeswoman for the Scottish Conservative Party, said it was encouraging that poorer pupils were improving performance.

But she added: “It doesn’t help their chances much if more affluent peers are forging even further ahead.

“This is another clear and worrying sign that the gap between rich and poor children is growing.

“Parents will rightly be questioning why the situation is getting worse, when it should be steadily improving.”

Iain Gray, education spokesman for the Scottish Labour Party, called on education secretary John Swinney to explain the figures.

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He said: “The Scottish Government has been ducking and diving on how it measures and presents the attainment gap, often using highly selective levels of qualifications to claim success in reducing it.

“This comprehensive measure of attainment lays bare the reality that Scotland’s attainment gap is widening.

“The SNP is failing to deliver on its top priority and failing children through continuing cuts to school resources.”

Tavish Scott, education spokesman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, added: “This is a worrying trend.

“Despite all the talk of closing the gap, the opposite appears to be the case. The Scottish Government has made the gap their main educational mission. If Plan A is not working, what is Plan B?”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said figures published last month showed an increase at all levels of attainment since 2009/10.

She said: “Overall, we use a range of indicators to measure the attainment gap, as set out in the National Improvement Framework, rather than relying on a single data set. This provides a more rounded measure.

“Early results are encouraging, but we know there is more to do to raise attainment and ensure all young people have the best chance to build the knowledge, skills and confidence they need.”

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Mark Priestley, professor of education at Stirling University, said improvement in the performance of the poorest pupils was welcome.

“It is good news that pupils from deprived backgrounds are doing better and that is something our own research is backing up.

“It may not be surprising that if you put more resources into schools to close the attainment gap then pupils from other backgrounds may benefit from that also.

“The attainment drive is relatively new and the very youngest children who still have the most to gain are still quite a way off from doing qualifications.”

Mr Priestley said education was not a “magic bullet” and the impact of poverty had to be tackled through wider measures.

The Government is investing £180m in schools through the Scottish Attainment Challenge in 2019/20.