THE deputy First Minister visited a Wee County school this week to speak at an education conference aimed at improving the area's collaboration culture.

A plan which sets out how education and learning will improve across four local authority areas was the main talking point at the event, held at Alva Academy on Monday.

The regional summit brought together headteachers, elected members and education professionals to discuss and provide feedback on the first regional improvement plan for the Forth Valley and West Lothian Improvement Collaborative (RIC).

The arrangement was set up last year and covers Falkirk, Stirling, Clackmannanshire and West Lothian Council areas.

Speakers at Monday's event included David Istance, senior analyst with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and Graeme Logan, strategic director with Education Scotland.

Mr Swinney, who is also the country's education secretary, delivered the keynote speech at the conference after attending a more intimate meeting with members and Alva Academy's headteacher.

Robert Naylor, lead officer for the RIC, said: "This is our first plan for improvement across the four council areas.

"We're consulting with head teachers and are keen to get as many views as possible before it's submitted to the Scottish government at the end of this month.

"We're seeking to build a collaborative culture that will support teachers across the region to focus learning and teaching on practice that will improve outcomes for children and help close the socio-economic attainment gap."

There are six RICs across Scotland and were set up to work together across the partnership area to identify and share best practice, identify interventions and learning to support teachers and close the poverty related attainment gap.

Graeme Logan, strategic director at Education Scotland, added: "Education Scotland is delighted to be involved in the Forth Valley and West Lothian Regional Collaborative's inaugural summit.

"We look forward to working with practitioners across the ?Forth Valley and West Lothian as they work together in new ways to transform the lives of children and young people through learning."