MSPs at Holyrood have voted down a "highly irresponsible" Scottish Tory motion on education.

MSP Meghan Gallacher tabled the motion in the Scottish Parliament which claimed “that education has never been the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s number one priority”.

It went on to “express frustration at the widening attainment gap and the failure to guarantee that the 2022 school examination diet will go ahead in full”.

An SNP amendment to the motion passed by 67 votes to 54.

The amended motion was then passed by 67 votes to 53 with one abstention.

Speaking in favour of the motion, Gallacher said young people were being left “in limbo” over their exams after it was announced a final decision on whether they will go forward could come as late as March.

READ MORE: Decision on exams going ahead to be made by the end of March 'at the latest'

“If teachers were given a clear steer by this government, they would be able to plan and make sure their students were ready to sit their exams,” she said.

She added: “Any responsible government would have started preparing for this year’s exams last year and would made sure that alternative arrangements had been secured to ensure minimal disruption to school exams.”

In fact, two contingency plans were announced in August by the Scottish Qualifications Authority in case Covid-19 continues to create issues in education.

The first allows the Scottish Government to make amendments to assessments if the pandemic causes interruptions to learning, but public health officials say exams can go ahead.

The second means exams can be cancelled if advisers believe it would not be safe – with the diet replaced by a teacher judgment model.

Responding to the Scots Tory, Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said “caution” was still needed when approaching the exam diet due to the nature of the pandemic.

She added: “I strongly disagree with this highly irresponsible motion.”

Somerville continued: “As I’ve repeatedly set out since the beginning of this term, it is our firm intention for exams to take place.

“But it would be highly irresponsible to ignore the possibility, however exceptionally remote that we hope it will be, of the pandemic worsening therefore we have a robust contingency should the public health conditions make exams impossible.”