NICOLA Sturgeon has said she is “utterly determined” to press on with educational reforms after coming under fire for poor literacy statistics.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson asked whether the First Minister was “embarrassed, ashamed or both” following the publication of the latest Scottish survey of literacy and numeracy (SSLN).

Davidson went on the attack at FMQs after the survey showed fewer than half of Scotland’s 13 and 14-year-olds are able to write well while the writing performance of P4 and P7 pupils has also dropped.

She said: “Today in Scotland in an S2 class of 30 pupils, on average, five can’t write properly. That’s double the number just four years ago. When the First Minister sees statistics like these does she feel embarrassed, ashamed or both?”

Sturgeon responded: “What I feel is utterly determined, determined to carry on with the changes we’re making in Scottish education so that we continue to see the improvements in attainment and progress in closing the attainment gap.”

The First Minister said she was not going “to try in any way to diminish the significance” of the SSLN findings but argued the study was a sample that measured S2 pupils against the standard they are expected to reach in S3. In contrast, she said, the Government’s “comprehensive” national improvement framework data showed over 80 per cent of S3 pupils were meeting the required standard.

Sturgeon was also pressed on evidence taken by MSPs on the Education Committee, which heard trainee teachers are graduating without sufficient skills to teach maths to P7s.

She said the Government had increased the intake into teacher education and pointed out the content of teacher education was a matter for universities, with four Scottish universities ranked in the top seven across the UK for teacher education.

She added: “When Ruth Davidson talks about the time spent in this chamber debating the constitution, what she’s trying to distract attention from is that that has been time debating the implications of Brexit. The Brexit disaster that the Tory Party is leading this country into.”