It is, I suggest, profoundly stupid of Macwhirter and others to fail to provide context for their musing. on the SQA and Scottish education.
“By 2011/12, 13 million people in the UK were living in poverty. For the first time more than half of these people lived in a working family. (Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2013).
The proportion of children that are living in poverty in the UK has risen from 24% in 2008 to 27% in 2012/3. However, this proportion will increase. According to the Child Poverty Action Group the 3.5 million children living in poverty in 2012/13 will be joined by another 600,000 by 2016, with the total rising to 4.7 million by 2020 (CPAG 2014). UNICEF has reported a strong relationship between the impact of the ‘Great Recession’ on national economies and a decline in children’s well-being since 2008. Children are suffering most, and will bear the consequences longest, in countries where the recession has hit hardest. The poorest and most vulnerable children have suffered disproportionately (UNICEF 2014)…..
…..Hunger in the classroom is increasing. Problems like squeezed food budgets, increasingly busy parents and a growing problem of food poverty in the UK are contributing to the reasons why children are arriving at school already hungry.
This in turn is putting an extra burden on teachers, who are spending more time dealing with the effects of hunger in the classroom and less time teaching.
Going without food in the morning has a direct impact on children’s behaviour and concentration in lessons, making them less likely to reach their full potential at school and could in turn affect their future prospects….
…Some subjects, especially ‘creative subjects’ (art, design and technology, photography) require extra materials and therefore cost more to study. 27 per cent of students on free school meals (FSM); 14 per cent of low-income students; and 8 per cent of better-off students chose not to study arts or music due to the associated costs.
The price of food left many young people going hungry during the school day. 25 per cent of students on FSM; 55 per cent of low-income students; and 13 per cent of better-off students said that they were going hungry at school because they could not afford to eat. They reported that going hungry left them unable to concentrate at school.
Many young people reported missing school trips because they were prohibitively expensive. 57 per cent of low-income students and 28 per cent of better-off students said that they had missed at least one school trip because of the price and this had had some impact on them. The impacts of missing school trips included the ability to socialise and make friends, and learn new skills.
35 per cent of students on FSM; 25 per cent of low-income students; and 5 per cent of better-off students identified cost as preventing them from having a full school uniform. Those unable to have a full uniform said that this got them into trouble and made them feel different to their peers.
Most young people reported not having all the books and equipment needed for their studies. 21 per cent of students receiving FSM; 14 per cent of students from low-income households; and 5 per cent of students from better-off families suggested that cost was to blame. A lack of books, revision guides and stationery meant that their ability to study was reduced.
9 per cent of young people questioned did not have access to a computer at home or were denied internet access.”
In Scotland, as a result of UK government’s welfare reforms, poverty among school children is expected to rise to 30% by 2030, according to Reed and Stark 2018. The IFS says 29%.
Despite the unnecessary and cruel use of “austerity” (a political project based on deceit) Scotland’s local authorities may have fared better than their English counterparts.
Despite austerity, in 2017 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said:”“Scotland has a proud record in reducing poverty over the last 20 years, with significant falls in pensioner and child poverty. It has meant thousands of families across the country have enjoyed better living standards, financial security and better prospects.
“But Scotland stands at a turning point as the challenge facing families on low incomes changes. The rising cost of housing and the challenge of low-pay and in-work poverty – as well as the impact of UK social security decisions – mean the country’s progress is in peril.”
It is Scotland’s approach to housing and housing costs that limit the effects of poverty more than in England.
How much better might we be out of this dreadful , destructive Union?