A FULL review of Scotland's education system will report back ahead of the 2021 Holyrood election, ministers have indicated.

It comes after the SNP Government was defeated in a Scottish Parliament debate on schools, which was led by the Conservatives.

MSPs voted by 63 to 60 for a "full review" of broad general education, which covers learning from the early years right up to the end of S3.

They raised concerns around issues such as subject choice and classes where pupils studying for different levels of exams are all taught together.

Education Secretary John Swinney had already instructed an examination of the senior phase of education.

In a letter to Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee, he confirmed this will now be extended.

He wrote:  “I am writing having reflected on last month's Conservative Party debate on education and the view of Parliament that there should be a full review of Curriculum for Excellence.

“I can confirm that I am making arrangements to broaden the planned review of the senior phase curriculum to a full review of Curriculum for Excellence, covering the broad general education (BGE), the senior phase and the articulation between the two.

“I can also confirm that the OECD [Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development] has agreed to lead this review and we are working closely with its education directorate to determine the terms of reference for the review.”

He added: “Given the broader scope of this work, the review will now not conclude until early 2021 and it is important that a terms of reference is finalised swiftly in order that the review can commence as soon as possible.”

In December, international education tests reported record low results in science and maths among Scottish school pupils.

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith welcomed the latest move, adding: “It is vitally important that the issue of subject choice is central to these reviews.

"Far too many young people across Scotland are not getting the choices they both need and deserve.”