SNP ministers have been accused of a “pitiful” lack of progress on the creation of a national digital academy – a key pledge in the party’s 2021 Holyrood election manifesto.

Freedom of Information requests by the Scottish Conservatives and responses to written questions reveal that any plans for the academy are still at a “development” stage.

The SNP’s manifesto stated that a national digital academy would allow people to study Highers regardless of their age, where they live or where their school is located and promised to end the “postcode lottery” of subject choice.

However, in over two-and-a-half years since the election, the Scottish Government has confirmed that not a single penny has been put towards a national digital academy, and only four civil servants are currently working on the plans.

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary, Liam Kerr, has claimed that this is “further proof” that education is not the top priority of the Scottish Government.

He added that the failure to get a national digital academy “off the ground” is the latest in a host of “broken promises” by SNP ministers in relation to Scottish education, following their failure to eradicate the poverty-related attainment gap and further delays in giving free laptops to all school pupils.

Mr Kerr said: “The SNP’s progress on creating a national digital academy is nothing short of pitiful.

“This was a flagship promise they made to voters ahead of the 2021 election, but they have failed to spend a single penny in two-and-a-half years.

“That is a total dereliction of duty and further proof that, despite their warm words, education is simply not the SNP’s top priority.”

He added: “For plans to still only be at a development stage shows a complete lack of urgency from successive SNP education secretaries.

“This failure to get a digital academy off the ground is just the latest in a litany of education-related failures from the SNP. They’ve failed miserably in eradicating the attainment gap in our schools and recently announced a further delay to their much-promised rollout of free laptops to every pupil.

“Jenny Gilruth must urgently explain why so few people are working on this key manifesto commitment and when plans for a National Digital Academy will finally come to fruition.”

Ms Gilruth said that the Scottish Government is “currently developing options for a national digital academy”.

She added: “Accordingly, specific formal progress reports have not been produced or published.

“There have been no costs incurred to date on the development of a national digital academy.

“As set out, (the) Scottish Government is currently developing options for a national digital academy.

“Once developed, these will include an estimate of future potential costs.”