The Conservative MP criticised the gap between pupils in poorer and richer areas of Scotland and the First Minister’s repeated proclamations that education was her priority.
Ms Sturgeon and the SNP have been accused of failing an entire generation of children after a report into Scottish educational standards.
Think tank The Sutton Trust found the cleverest Scottish children are a year’s worth of schooling behind in science compared to before the SNP took power.
David Mundell accused the First Minister of letting down bright pupils in poor areas
The absolute focus is independence
Speaking on Question Time on the BBC, Mr Mundell criticised the SNP’s ten years in charge of Scottish education.
He said: “I find the most shocking statistic not the comparison between Scotland and England but the comparison that if you’re a bright child living in a poorer area in Scotland, you are two years behind the same child living in a more affluent area and I think that is a shocking indictment of the SNP’s 10 years in charge of education in Scotland.
“Despite the fact that Nicola Sturgeon said last week in the Scottish Parliament education was her absolute focus, it’s quite clear, even from the discussion tonight, it isn’t. The absolute focus is independence.”
Both Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale, the Labour leader at Holyrood, attacked the SNP during FMQs last week, as they accused Ms Sturgeon of failing to uphold and improve Scottish educational standards.
Ms Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: “Scotland used to lead the world in education. Why under the SNP are we always playing catch up?”
Ms Sturgeon replied her political rival had done a disservice to pupils and teachers across Scotland.
Nicola Sturgeon has been frequently criticised over the SNP's education record
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Nicola Sturgeon visits Glaxo Smith Kline.
“I do not and never will shy away from the challenges we must address,” she said.
She added it was important to note the Sutton Trust's report was based on data that pre-dates the SNP's latest measures to close the attainment gap.
Researchers at the trust found a gap equivalent to more than two years in schooling for science, reading and maths between poor pupils in the top 10 per cent of achievers nationally compared to their equally clever bright well-off peers.