Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of putting independence before schools by launching her bid for another referendum on the day auditors revealed that she failed to improve education for poorer children.

Before the 2016 Holyrood election, Sturgeon said education would be her number one priority She pledged to “substantially close the attainment gap” between affluent and deprived children by the end of the current parliament — which ended yesterday — and “to eliminate it within a decade”.

But Audit Scotland, the spending watchdog that independently assesses the government’s performance, said in a report published on Tuesday: “Progress on closing the gap has been limited and falls short of the Scottish government’s aims.”

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