JOHN Swinney has launched the SNP’s “mini manifesto for education” promising to maintain teacher numbers and pupil-teacher ratios, and invest “in better buildings”.

The Deputy First Minister claimed a vote for the SNP in next month’s council elections was vote for “improving our education system”.

Labour’s Iain Gray accused Swinney of “dropping the ball” on education because of his obsession with independence.

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Launching the manifesto, Swinney said: “We are investing £120 million in our schools to close the attainment gap, whilst putting power into headteachers’ hands and empowering schools.

“SNP councils will work with the Scottish Government to build or refurbish 112 schools by 2020 – covering every local authority area.

“And is vital we maintain teacher numbers and pupil-teacher ratios, as well as improving outcomes for looked after children and young people.

“These policies are a firm building block in helping us deliver our vision for a Scotland where every child has every chance to succeed.

“That is what you are voting for when you vote SNP – cast-iron commitments to continue our hard work in improving our education system.”

Gray, Labour’s education spokesman disagreed: “John Swinney was supposed to be a safe pair of hands, but like his SNP predecessors he has repeatedly dropped the ball on education.

“Under the SNP, the gap between the richest and poorest in our schools has widened, and there are 4000 fewer teachers and 1000 fewer support staff in our schools.”

LibDem education spokesman Tavish Scott warned: “The message is clear that if you vote SNP in the local elections you get centralised SNP national policy. That means when SNP ministers say jump their councillors will just ask Nicola ‘How high?’”