RUTH Davidson has warned Scottish pupils face less teaching and less learning at school this year as the curriculum is scaled back following the coronavirus crisis. 

The Scottish Conservatives' Holyrood leader called on Nicola Sturgeon to ask the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) "to think again".

She referenced reports that the authority plans for pupils to "cover less ground in the curriculum and key subjects, including English and maths". 

Raising the issue at First Minister's Questions, Ms Davidson said: "Instead of building our pupils back up, this Government seems content to accept second best – less teaching, less learning and less knowledge this year, for young people who already lost out last year.

"I don't think that's acceptable and I doubt that many parents across Scotland will either.

"Parents expect this government to have the ambition to deliver the same standards of teaching as in any normal school year, and nothing less.

"So will the First Minister ask the SQA to think again?"

Ms Davidson said Scottish school pupils have already missed an entire term of classroom teaching due to Covid-19. 

She said: "We know that loss of time will have fallen hardest on pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds – the very pupils whose communities have been left devastated by the pandemic."

The Scottish Conservatives have called for extra tuition for the most disadvantaged to stop the attainment gap growing further. 

Ms Sturgeon said the SQA "will do the work that is required" and reiterated plans for a review aimed at learning lessons from the botched results system introduced because exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown.

She said the SQA will "look closely" at issues around the curriculum.

She said: "It's important, particularly given the mistakes that were made - and I take responsibility for those mistakes - around the SQA results this year, that we take time to make sure that we get that right while continuing to support young people through an ongoing virus situation that has not yet ended."

Ms Davidson opened FMQs by referencing the plan, announced in Tuesday's Programme for Government, to introduce a draft bill at Holyrood setting out a question and proposed timings for another Scottish independence referendum.

She asked: "Why is that more urgent than an education bill?"

Ms Sturgeon said: "This government has a very well known, well established and well under way programme of improvements and reform in education.

"Of course we have taken additional steps to make sure that pupils catch up on the education that they've lost over the Covid-19 period, we've given additional funding to local authorities for that and we are providing additional funding specifically to recruit additional teachers.

"Education, and improving education remains the priority for this government."

The First Minister insisted it is for the people of Scotland to choose their own future.