NICOLA Sturgeon hit out at Ruth Davidson for her “legendary flip-flopping” after criticism of the Scottish Government’s education policy at First Minister’s Questions.

The Scottish Tory leader claimed parents were being "left in the dark" as to whether standards of literacy and numeracy were improving.

The First Minister pointed out that there was now more data than ever available to help track schools’ performance.

Davidson said that while new national assessments have been brought in, there would be a five-year gap in knowledge, after the previous survey which measured literacy and numeracy was cancelled.

She said: “New assessments – which we support at P4, P7 and S3 – are not comparable, they cannot show a trend, there is no baseline and they will take time to bed in and in the meantime we have no idea whether standards in literacy and numeracy are rising or falling.

“The [education] committee was quite explicit – there is a five-year gap in our knowledge because of the actions of this SNP government.”

READ MORE: SNP candidate eyeing up Holyrood rematch in Davidson's constituency

Picking up on Davidson’s point about primary assessments, Sturgeon replied: “She said very carefully that the Tories support them at P4 and P7. Of course, omitting to say that in their manifesto for the 2016 election, they supported them at P1 as well.

“Just another example of Ruth Davidson’s legendary flip-flopping on every conceivable issue.”

She stated that the Tories have “no policies”, adding that there is “not an iota of principle either under Ruth Davidson”.

Referring to criticism on education standards, the First Minister insisted that there has never been more data on how schools were doing – pointing out the previous survey only measured performance at a national level, while the new assessments will look at the individual councils and schools.

She said: “Crucially, what all of that shows, is that we’re making progress in raising attainment and closing the attainment gap which is maybe what Ruth Davidson is a bit disappointed about.”

READ MORE: P1 assessments to be reformed after feedback from teachers

Davidson then claimed that parents have “no idea” whether or not standards were slipping.

She said: “What the First Minister doesn't get is if you are the mum of a seven-year-old now, you're not going to know until your child is a teenager whether this country is getting any better at teaching maths or not.

"And the reason for that is that old national survey showed standards were declining, so this SNP government got the blame and then it cancelled the survey, that is what happened.

"And it's left parents without any idea as to whether standards are going up or down."

The SNP leader replied: "I think parents deserve to know what is happening in their children's schools, which is why we now publish the data at school level.

"Because the reality is, and maybe Ruth Davidson should look into this just a little bit more closely, that under the survey of literacy and numeracy a parent had no idea what was happening in their child's school, because that survey didn't produce any data at school level.

"That is the difference in the data we publish now, it provides data not just at national level, not just at local authority level, it provides the data at individual school level.

"So parents actually have much more of an idea how their schools are doing than they ever have before."