If you plan to listen to the leaders’ TV debate this evening, reflect on what follows when an inevitably aggressive Douglas Ross talks over Nicola Sturgeon as she answers his predictable, context free charges the poverty-related attainment gap in Scotland. Reflect on what follows when Ross’ Unionist allies seek to make out that Scotland’s government has been exceptionally bad in not closing this gap more quickly or completely. Recall that according to Audit Scotland the gap is closing but not fast enough.
This is from the Education Policy Institute’s ‘Education in England: Annual Report 2020’
The EPI finds that:
– ‘the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has stopped closing for the first time in a decade. Policymakers have not succeeded in responding to earlier reports warning of a major loss of momentum in closing the gap.
– ‘disadvantaged pupils in England are 18.1 months of learning behind their peers by the time they finish their GCSEs – the SAME GAP as five years ago. (my emphasis)
– ‘the gap at primary school INCREASED increased for the first time since 2007 – which may signal that the gap is SET TO WIDEN in the future.
‘The stalling of the gap occurred even before the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted the education system.
‘Researchers have identified the increasing proportion of disadvantaged children in PERSISTENT POVERTY as a contributory cause of the lack of progress with narrowing the disadvantage gap.’
The Guardian reported on this in 26 August 2020: ‘Attainment gap between poor pupils and their peers in England is widening: study suggests gap in primary school is increasing due to rising levels of persistent poverty
‘After years of slow progress, researchers says efforts to close the attainment gap have stalled. Disadvantaged pupils are 18.1 months of learning behind their peers by the time they finish their GCSEs – the same gap as five years ago – but in primary schools the gap increased for the first time since 2007, up from 9.2 months in 2018 to 9.3 a year later.’
‘A key factor, the EPI (Education Policy Institute) says, is the rise in the proportion of pupils who live in persistent poverty, up from 34.8% in 2017 to 36.7% two years later. In some areas the GAP IS EVEN WIDER with poorer pupils in Blackpool, Knowsley and Plymouth more than TWO FULL YEARS OF EDUCATION BEHIND their peers by the end of secondary.’
So, stalled for some and getting worse for others as against closing but not by enough!