SCOTTISH councils are paying nearly £1 million a year in taxi fares to transport children between schools to take additional classes not on offer at their own school.

A total of £918,768 was spent in the last school year on taking pupils from their own school to study a subject that is not available to them otherwise.

North Lanarkshire Council spends the largest amount on ferrying youngsters between schools at a cost of £290,499 a year - more than double the next highest council, which is Renfrewshire at £118,099.

But North Lanarkshire said it ran a scheme that actively encouraged pupils to take subjects at other schools.

Caitlyn Slevin, 16, a fifth-year pupil at Our Lady's High School in Cumbernauld benefits from the scheme.

She travels three times a week to St Maurice's High School, two miles away across the town, to study for a National 5 qualification in make-up artistry.

Caitlyn also attends a class in beauty at Cumbernauld College, and drama at nearby Greenfaulds High School.

And she is also studying for National 5 qualifications in English, maths, and travel and tourism studies at her own school.

She said: "It really benefits me to be able to do this as my school doesn't offer all of the courses I want to do.

"I like going to other schools. I know a lot of people in my classes there. It's really easy, I just go in and study and get it done.

"If my school didn't pay for me to get taxis to the other schools, I wouldn't be able to do it.

"My dad doesn't drive and if I had to go on public transport, it would take me too long and I would miss things.

"I have wanted to be a make-up artist since I was in second year. I'm leaving school in the summer and going to college, but the fact I have already taken a qualification in make-up artistry means I can go straight into stage two and then get a job more quickly.

"I'd like to work as a make-up ­artist on a cruise [ship] or in a department store."

Our Lady's High School headteacher Danny McNulty said about 100 pupils at the school travelled to other educational establishments to take both vocational and academic courses.

The council said the programme allowed youngsters to expand their skill set and study for vocational courses which will lead to a career while still learning the core subjects at their base school.

Aberdeenshire Council also spent more than £100,000, forking out £116,905 a year, covering a total of 419 taxi journeys.

Meanwhile, South Ayrshire pays out £92,541 a year and Falkirk Council £70,067 a year.

Figures from East Dunbartonshire Council showed the local authority spent £26,125 between August 2016 and May last year.

The council said it could not provide figures for the entire school year as the responsibility was handed to individual schools in May.

Opposition politicians warned the high costs in many areas were symptomatic of the teacher recruitment crisis faced by Scottish schools, saying that some have had to cut back on the number of classes available due to a lack of staff.

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman, said: "What we are increasingly seeing as a result of the crippling teacher shortage is more schools admitting they cannot continue with certain classes."

A total of seven councils said they had not spent anything on transferring students between schools to attend classes.

A further four councils in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Angus and South Lanarkshire said they were either unable to provide or release the information.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "While the responsibility for the delivery of education, including pupil transport and managing budgets, rests with individual local authorities, we encourage schools to work together to offer pupils a wide range of educational opportunities."