Nicola Sturgeon has said that raising attainment in schools should be the "number one priority" of the next Scottish Government.

The First Minister also claimed a re-elected SNP government would hand more power over to parents and teachers on key school decisions.

The party's manifesto, launched on Wednesday, promised an additional £750m of funding to raise attainment as part of a wider project to eliminate the attainment gap "within a decade".

It also pledged extend to schools responsibilities that currently reside with local authorities, and to review school governance for ways to give parents a bigger role.

Speaking at a campaign visit to Dumfries on Thursday, Sturgeon reflected on her own education, adding: "I want every child in Scotland to have the same opportunities that I did."

She said: "From the earliest years until adulthood, improving Scotland's education system should be the number one priority of the next Scottish government.

"That's why, alongside a strong national framework, I want to see parents and teachers, who have some of the best ideas about how to support children's education able to play a bigger role in the life of their schools."

The First Minister added: "The goal of the SNP will be to substantially close the attainment gap in the next Parliament and to eliminate it within a decade.

"I have set out ambitious proposals to ensure that every child has the chance to succeed in life - and if re-elected as First Minister I will ask to be judged on my success in achieving this."

Scottish Labour asked Sturgeon why her party had not pledged to protect the education budget in real terms - as it has with health and policing.

Party leader Kezia Dugdale challenged the First Minister to commit to protecting education spending.

Dugdale said: "Labour has been absolutely clear in this election campaign that we will stop the cuts and introduce a 50p tax rate on people earning over £150,000 in order to invest in education. That is the right choice to make if we are going to prepare Scots for the jobs of the future.

"In her manifesto yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon offered protection for the NHS budget, but not for education. This is not a technical detail. If the SNP leader does not make this commitment in simple terms it means she plans to cut education spending in real terms.

"So here is a simple challenge to Nicola Sturgeon. I'll protect education spending in real terms. Will you?"

The Labour leader added: "The SNP have already cut education and skills by 10% in real terms. With unemployment rising we can't keep cutting into the future of our economy."

Labour said the 2016/17 SNP budget had seen hundreds of millions of pounds' worth of cuts to local services, including schools.

The party also pointed out that the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) had questioned the SNP's proposal to raise attainment funding in part by ring-fencing council tax revenue.

An SNP spokesperson responded: "As usual, Labour are playing catch-up - we have already set out plans which will see spending on schools and nurseries increase in real terms over the next five years."

The Scottish Lib Dems questioned the reason why a national survey of attainment statistics had been delayed.

The Lib Dems said that a survey detailing numeracy and literacy levels across Scotland - known as the SSLN - is usually published in March or April.

Despite purdah restrictions the government can still publish official statistics, and indeed have done this week on rent prices for agricultural land, say the party.

Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: "The First Minister has said education is her number one priority. But the results of the last two of these surveys have shown overall literacy and numeracy standards are slipping and the attainment gap is widening.

"It seems convenient that we're being expected to wait more than a month longer than ever before to get sight of the most up-to-date statistics on literacy and numeracy. But that is the kind of jiggery-pokery we've come to expect from the SNP.

"Scotland's education system used to be a world leader but it has slipped down the international rankings of late. Liberal Democrats want Scottish schools to be the best again and to do that we need a clear picture of where help is needed on the ground the most."

The SNP said Rennie had "a brass neck talking about educational standards given that Scotland plummeted down international education rankings for maths and reading between 2003 and 2006 when his party and Labour were in charge".

The spokesperson added: "The situation has improved again under the SNP, with the recent OECD review finding that we are above average in international rankings on science and reading and that there are clear upwards trends in attainment and positive destinations."

The Scottish Government said the survey's publication date "varies from year to year".

A spokesperson said: "In line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics the publication date was announced well before the pre-election period.

"Data would not have been ready before the pre-election period and has therefore been scheduled for after May 5 which will allow full and timely parliamentary scrutiny."

Nicola Sturgeon's decision to bring back national testing was a mistake, said the Greens.

Education spokesperson Isla O'Reilly said: "Closing the attainment gap is important but the SNP's return to national testing, encouraged by Labour and the Tories, is not what Scotland's young people need.

"Class sizes are the biggest they've been since 2007 and the Scottish Greens are committed to recruiting 4,000 more teachers over the next parliament to ensure teachers have time to teach.

"We'd also give greater attention to Additional Support Needs which disproportionately affect children from poorer backgrounds and is an area that has been cut due to the SNP government's squeeze on local funding."

The Scottish Conservatives have been approached for comment.