NICOLA Sturgeon has defended her education secretary over a probe into falling pass rates at Higher, arguing that "the Tories are incapable of paying attention".

Acting Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw started First Minister's Questions by asking about an investigation ordered by John Swinney in the wake of the Higher pass rate falling from 76.8% to 74.8% last year.

Asking when the findings would be published, Carlaw said: "In September, while publicly berating operation critics, the education secretary privately commissioned his officials to probe the increasing failure rate at Highers."

The First Minister responded to say "we will publish findings as and when we have them", and told MSPs Swinney had told Holyrood's Education Committee about his plans.

"The deputy First Minister actually informed the Education and Skills Committee of this Parliament on 27 November of the analysis of the 2019 SQA results that he intended to carry out.

"I don't think that the deputy First Minister can be held responsible if the Tories are incapable of paying attention to what's going on in Parliament."