Scotland’s Education Secretary has refused to say when the gap between rich and poor school pupils will be eliminated, prompting claims that the original target of 2026 has been dropped.

Shirley-Anne Somerville said it would be “arbitrary” to put a date on the closing of the attainment gap, despite Nicola Sturgeon promising in 2016 it would happen within a decade.

Instead, Ms Somerville said narrowing the gap had “always been a long-term project” which had been made more difficult by the Covid pandemic and the rising cost of living.

Ms Sturgeon previously described closing the gap as her “defining mission” in Government and that Scottish voters should judge her on her record in doing so.

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