SNP ministers have been accused of letting down teachers and pupils after an "embarrassing" failure to deliver on a pledge to cut class sizes. 

Opposition figures criticised ministers for failing "to boost teacher numbers and support pupils despite 13 years in power". 

It came as the Scottish Government hailed figures showing the total number of full-time equivalent teachers has risen to its highest figure since 2008. 

Meanwhile, average class sizes in primary schools fell to their smallest since 2012, down to 23.1 from 23.5 in 2019.

But critics pointed to the longer-term picture and the SNP's failure to deliver on a 2007 manifesto promise to cut P1-3 class sizes to 18. 

The number of full-time equivalent teachers in Scotland’s schools is also 1,700 fewer than when the SNP assumed office in 2007.

Scottish Conservative education spokesman Jamie Greene said: “The SNP are patting themselves on the back today for cutting teacher numbers by thousands since 2007 and only starting to recognise the problem that they created years too late, once our schools had already slid down international league tables.

“Under the SNP’s leadership, Scotland’s schools came into the pandemic understaffed and unprepared. 

"There are still nowhere near enough teachers to deliver the same high standard of schooling that was possible before the SNP came to power.

“Pupils and teachers have been let down by the broken promise on class sizes.

"It’s embarrassing that the SNP will go into the 2021 election having completely failed to deliver a headline pledge from their 2007 manifesto."

Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: “Today’s statistics are clear: the SNP has failed to boost teacher numbers and support pupils despite 13 years in power.

“Despite improvements on last year’s statistics, the SNP is still unable to match the level of teachers provided by the Scottish Labour-led Executive in 2007.

“Scotland’s pupils have endured a wasted 13 years under the SNP. It’s time for the SNP to take action to reverse the damage it has done to schooling in Scotland.”

Figures show there are 53,400 teachers employed in early learning and childcare, primary, secondary and special schools or centrally employed. 

This is 1,153 more than the 2019 total of 52,247.

Education Secretary John Swinney said: “I welcome this significant rise in teacher numbers, which is the largest annual increase since equivalent statistics began in 2006.

“The Covid-19 pandemic led us to take action to help pupils catch up with learning having been out of school, and we have invested an additional £80 million to recruit more than 1,400 additional teachers and 200 support staff this year – all of whom are now in place.

“A drop in class sizes is also welcome news as it is a crucial element in our ambition to close the attainment gap between the most and least deprived. 

"As we continue to navigate through this pandemic, our focus will steadfastly remain on delivering equity and excellence.”