The Scottish Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have been accused of "actively misleading people" over publication of a major education report.

One critic said they were engaged in a "relentless campaign" to undermine the Scottish Parliament.

It comes after MSPs were told they would get access to draft preliminary findings from a review of Curriculum for Excellence by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) but would not be able to publish, cite or quote them.

In a letter to Clare Adamson, Convener of Holyrood's Education and Skills Committee, John Swinney said the OECD had 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". 

READ MORE: John Swinney at centre of new secrecy row over education report

Mr Swinney, who is Education Secretary and Deputy First Minister, has been under growing pressure to publish the document and, last month, suffered a parliamentary defeat when opposition MSPs teamed up to back a Lib Dem motion that included a call for its release. 

Notification that MSPs alone would be given confidential access to draft findings drew an angry response from Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, who said: "This is an insult to the people of the country that they can't be trusted with a 7-page summary of preliminary recommendations.

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

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

HeraldScotland: Education Secretary John Swinney.Education Secretary John Swinney.

But correspondence shows the Scottish Government wrote to the OECD's Directorate for Education and Skills on March 9 to ask formally if it would be possible to publish the draft report following last month's education debate and vote at Holyrood.

The organisation's response states: "We are in receipt of your request for reaction on the motion by the Scottish Parliament calling for the immediate publication of the draft OECD report on the Review of CfE, which was shared with the Government on 2 February for fact checking purposes.

"At the outset, please note that disclosure of documents and other material produced or disseminated by the OECD for consideration of its Members is governed by the rules of the OECD.

"In particular, we note that the preliminary draft report regarding the Curriculum for Excellence Review 2021 is classified as confidential and not for dissemination.

"As such, the said report is protected and cannot be published and disseminated to the public.

"We trust that this information will be of use in your deliberations."   

READ MORE: John Swinney urged to set out education reform timetable

Ross Greer, education spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said: "The Tories and Lib Dems are actively misleading people as part of their relentless campaign to undermine the Scottish Parliament.

"I've published the letters showing there is no government cover-up of this report, letters they received at the same time I did.

"Greens have led criticism of the SNP's poor record on education, whether it was the exams shambles we had to fix for them, the need for teachers to access regular covid tests or the tragic lack of support for children with additional needs.

"We won't lie to the public for political gain though. Its sad that others have stooped to that level."

READ MORE: Defeat for John Swinney

The OECD review 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.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Education Spokesman Jamie Greene said: “Throughout this process it is clear that John Swinney has never wanted voters to be able to see the SNP’s record on education before the election in May. 

“The Greens joined opposition parties last month to support Scottish Conservative demands for the release of this review yet now seem happy to defend the SNP to the hilt. 

“The SNP promised parents an interim report so that parliament and the public could scrutinise its findings and take any immediate action needed to better our education system. That now seems to have disappeared too. 

“The Greens are nothing short of hypocrites on this matter. In one breath demanding transparency and action and in the next lining up to save John Swinney’s skin, despite his shambolic handling of our education system.”

HeraldScotland: Jamie Greene of the Scottish Conservatives.Jamie Greene of the Scottish Conservatives.

Lib Dem education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP said: "This is very strange behaviour from Ross Greer. The government has dozens of its own spin doctors, I'm not sure why the Green party are doing their job for them. 

"Scottish Liberal Democrats first asked John Swinney to commission an interim report almost a year ago. He told us at Education Committee in September that he would be 'happy to discuss' getting an interim report with the OECD. We know from a freedom of information request that John Swinney did not even bother to contact them. 

“The SNP orchestrated this report coming out a month after the election, denying voters the opportunity to judge them on their record on education. 

“Allowing a select number of people to receive a private viewing of a flimsy seven-page summary is inadequate. No-one with Scottish education’s interests at heart would choose to operate this way.”