The SNP has derided Labour's education plans as a "pitiful sham" after producing figures which show only 56 extra teachers would be employed if savings are transferred to the state system once the assisted places scheme is scrapped.
Labour has promised to use the money from abolishing the scheme, which currently costs Pounds 12.5 million in Scotland, to target extra staff in the early stages of primary where class sizes would be cut below 30. But Janet Law, the SNP's spokeswoman on education, said: "This 'new' funding would amount to an increase of 0.075 per cent of local education authority expenditure. Less than one-thousandth. This is enough to pay for just 56 extra primary school teachers and barely enough to fund 0.8 extra teachers in each Scottish constituency."
The SNP bases its assessment on the savings available to Labour by subtracting the average cost per pupil in the state sector from the cost per pupil in the private sector. Nationalist researchers argue that this would leave Pounds 2,197 per pupil, or Pounds 7.6 million in total.
"If savings are made over the first five-year term, this would amount to a release of just Pounds 1.5 million of funding in the first year, compared to a pledge of Pounds 60 million in 1992," they say.