Ruth Davidson, the Scottish conservative leader, took the SNP took to task at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday.
Ms Davidson said Scottish education was broken and required a root and branch review.
She began her examination by asking Ms Sturgeon whether she had “complete confidence” in Scotland’s education agencies.
“We are undertaking a governance review,” Ms Sturgeon replied. “Our agencies are offering real strengths and benefits to Scottish education and to the curriculum for excellence.
“We are asking some fundamental questions about school education and the best way to empower schools to improve.”
Back in September Scottish education secretary John Swinney announced a plan to “empower” teachers to make the best decisions for their pupils.
He said the government’s aim would be to give schools and head teachers as much power as possible.
Responding to Nicola Sturgeon today at Holyrood, Ms Davidson said: “The First Minister says fundamental questions need to be asked of those agencies and I think it is hard to disagree with that.
“But she might want to reflect on who has actually been in charge for the last 10 years.”
Ms Davidson said that experts and members of the government”s education committee had blasted the SNP’s record on education and governance.
She accused the SNP of “swamping” teachers with 20,000 pages of guidance and that the documents were “totally inaccessible”.
Ms Davidson cited the failure of Curriculum for Excellence as a “dereliction of duty”.
In response, the First Minister said she did not accept the characterisation of the SNP having failed to uphold and improve education standards.
Ms Davidson then cited some of the comments to come out of the education committee last week in relation to SQA – the Scottish Qualifications Authority – which is responsible for school exams carried out in Scotland.
She said one MSP had accused the SQA of existing in a “parallel universe” while another described it as “swimming in a sea of jargon”.
A third is reported to have said: “Please don’t scare me anymore.”