John Swinney is at the centre of a fresh secrecy row after it emerged MSPs would get access to draft preliminary findings from a major education report but will not be able to publish, cite or quote them.

The OECD review of Curriculum for Excellence was originally scheduled for release in February.

However, it was announced in April last year that publication would be delayed until June 2021 because of the pandemic.

Mr Swinney, who is Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary, has been under growing pressure to hand over the document as May's Holyrood election approaches.

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He suffered a parliamentary defeat last month when opposition MSPs teamed up to back a Liberal Democrat motion that included a call for its release. 

He has now written to the Education and Skills Committee to confirm that a summary of draft preliminary findings has been shared with the Scottish Parliament.

HeraldScotland: Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

His letter states: "This is a confidential OECD background document for discussion during the forthcoming stakeholder seminar and is not meant for public distribution, citation or quotation.

"However, the OECD is content for this document to be shared with the Scottish Parliament in confidence, which is why it has now be made available via SPICe [the Scottish Parliament Information Centre]."

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Mr Swinney's letter says the OECD has been "clear" that the "early preliminary draft of their report, which has been shared with the Scottish Government for the purposes of fact checking and clarification of contextual points only, is confidential and cannot be published". 

It adds: "Were we to publish the early preliminary draft of the OECD’s report we would be in breach of our contract with the OECD and would potentially threaten both the future of an important project, initiated to help inform the future for Scottish education, and the Scottish Government’s future working with the OECD."

But Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie branded the move an "insult".

"People will draw their own conclusions that the SNP are not prepared for their record on education to be judged at the election," he said.

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"This is a summary of fraction of a report, in a private library, under lock and key.

"This is a bind of the government's own making. It agreed to the OECD reporting a month after the election. John Swinney didn't even contact the OECD after he told Parliament he would be "happy to discuss" getting something sooner.

"The upcoming election will allow the people of Scotland a chance for change."