Growth of attainment gap in our education

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Pupils from poorer areas in the Borders are nearly four times less likely to achieve Standard Grade credit qualifications than those from wealthier backgrounds.

That data comes from a Freedom of Information request made to Scottish Borders Council by Scottish Conservatives.

Research shows that in the Borders only 19% of children from the poorest 20% of households achieved five or more Standard Grades.

This is compared to 72.7% from the richest 20% of households.

Based on the latest set of available statistics, this ‘attainment gap’ is the largest of any local authority in Scotland.

Local MP John Lamont praised Borders schools’ work over recent years, saying: “Many schools in the Borders have improved standards considerably during the past few years, thanks to the hard work of teachers and pupils.”

But he also called for”radical action” and a systemic change regarding education: “These figures show that some pupils are being let down by the Scottish Government’s one size fits all approach to education,” he said. “Every child should have the same chance of a good education and we all need to work hard towards achieving that aim.

“The time has come for radical action and we need to get rid of the ‘one size fits all’ approach we have in schools.”

A spokesperson for SBC said: “The 20% of young people in the poorest income bracket in the Scottish Borders perform above the national average for this group across Scotland (19%-18.9%). However the large gap is caused by the most affluent 20% of pupils in the region’s schools performing significantly above the national average for this group (72%-59.1%).

“We are acutely aware of the attainment gap linked to socio-economic factors and additional funding has been allocated to schools with the highest numbers of children in the lowest socio-economic bands for specific ‘closing the gap’ projects.”

These projects include the mentally flourishing schools initiative, which addresses pupils’ mental wellbeing – recognising the huge impact this has on attainment and a ‘one-to-one’ coaching approach for reading which dedicates more time to some pupils to help them develop.

In total, the percentage of Borders children achieving five or more qualifications at Standard Grade credit level in 2013 was the fifth highest in all of Scotland. It stands at 46.6%, while the national average is 37.1%.