'Under this government, the future of the assisted places scheme in Scotland is secure,' Mr Forsyth said.
'Each year it helps over 3,000 children whose parents would not otherwise be able to send their children to an independent school. That means real choice for parents and real opportunities for their children.
'The latest figures show that in the 1994-95 school session around 3,050 children in Scotland at the 55 participating schools, benefited under the scheme. That represents 17% of all secondary pupils in our independent schools.
'So the scheme should be able to meet the full cost of extending choice and opportunity for the poorest families. About half are in this category already.
'I recognise that a number of Scottish schools which already have a high proportion of assisted pupils may have limited scope to take more.
'In order to determine how best to meet the targets I am setting today, I therefore intend to consult the Scottish Council of Independent Schools about the way forward.'