Nicola Sturgeon’s education record was attacked by teachers on Friday who complained of rising class sizes, falling standards and a lack of funding.
Ms Sturgeon was told that children had lost opportunities and one teacher gave the SNP just two out of ten when assessing its performance in the classroom.
A recently retired maths teacher with 37 years experience said class sizes for S1 and S2 pupils in SNP-run Renfrewshire had increased from 20 to 33.
She said teacher numbers had fallen and the profession had been “decimated” in her area since the SNP came to power On the BBC’s Ask the Leader programme, the teacher was applauded by the studio audience when she gave the SNP just two out of ten when asked to mark its stewardship of education.
A serving headteacher, who was also in the audience, was also highly critical.
“Ever since you came into power, every single year there has been cuts in budgets, cuts in staffing. There’s been cuts in every service that supports us in education,” she said.
“Austerity has been part of that and I accept that. But you can’t expect the children to make the same level of attainment if you don’t fund them and certainly class sizes is the main thing.”
She added: “We have had 10-years of this and in the last 10-years children have lost opportunities and I think that’s been a really sad business that here we are today with such a loss of attainment amongst our young people.”
Ms Sturgeon said she had to listen to teachers and respond accordingly.
She said the Scottish Government’s Pupil Equity Fund was designed to put resources into the hands of headteachers.
“There is nothing we will talk about tonight that I’m more determined to do than tackle some of the challenges we have got,” Ms Sturgeon said.
Earlier Ms Sturgeon admitted that a good Brexit outcome would make her job of promoting Scottish independence “more difficult”.