Scottish Cons tweet on Educational Attainment fails to survive collision with the facts

Today’s twitter post from the Scottish Cons, as the latest poll predicts their extinction in Scotland, fails to survive a collision with the facts:

Statistics from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) show that for pupils in the 20 per cent most deprived areas of Scotland, the Higher pass rate was 70.2per cent this year, down from 83.2 per cent last year

The SQA said the attainment gap between the most and least deprived areas of Scotland was 15 percentage points in 2022, up from 7.8 percentage points in 2021. However the gap is narrower than in 2019, when it was 16.9 percentage points.

So, to repeat the bleeding obvious, you can’t meaningfully compare the exam-based 2022 results with the no-exam-based 2020 or 2021 results. Teachers in deprived areas were then given the power to actually close the gap by using their wider knowledge of what they felt pupils could do. You might want to make non-exam-based methods the norm but no credible educationist would make the comparison that has informed the above headlines.

Comparing 2019 and 2022 is also a bit problematic but it’s a lot more credible. So, the narrowing between 2019 and 2022 of 1.9% as a percentage of the 2019 gap, 16.9%, is 11.2%. That’s a statistically significant difference.

The Con tweet also fails to survive a collision with evidence from England where they have been responsible for educational attainment for 12 years:

The landmark study, based on research carried out for the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, found that disadvantaged pupils start school behind their better-off peers, and those inequalities persist through their school years and beyond – eventually having an impact on earnings.

The authors state there is overwhelming evidence that the education system in England leaves too many young people behind, and despite decades of policy focus, there has been little if any shift in the gaps in educational attainment between children from different backgrounds.

The report said: “Despite decades of policy attention, there has been virtually no change in the ‘disadvantage gap’ in GCSE attainment over the past 20 years. While GCSE attainment has been increasing over time, 16-year-olds who are eligible for free school meals are still around 27 percentage points less likely to earn good GCSEs than less disadvantaged peers.”


5 thoughts on “Scottish Cons tweet on Educational Attainment fails to survive collision with the facts

  1. So Tories trying to deceive again! Surely even BBC Scotland and STV won’t run with this?

    (It occurs to me that the measure of failure in Scotland of an opposition party’s public statement is that EVEN the BBC won’t run with it!)

    Anyway, this from Universities Scotland dated 9 August 2022 provides further support for the points made in today’s blog post.

    ‘Today, statistical data released by UCAS show that as of 9 August: …
    ‘2,110 young people from the 20 % most deprived areas of Scotland (SIMD20) have accepted a place to go to university in 2022, AN INCREASE OF 25% FROM 2019 (at the same point in the cycle. Young is defined as 19 years of age and under).’ (my emphasis)

    Director of Universities Scotland, Alastair Sim said: ‘We know the pandemic was more challenging for those with the least resources, so to see a 25% rise in the number of young Scots from disadvantaged backgrounds getting into university since pre-pandemic times (sic). The increase in pass rates at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher and THE GAP IN ATTAINMENT BEING REDUCED IS welcome progress that will be essential if universities are to continue to meet their targets on widening access.’


    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is not just the Tories – Labour have ploughed this furrow for several years using almost exactly the same terminology.


  2. I have stopped listening to the BBC it’s all fake News, the rest of the media
    aren’t any better Sky or STV. Brexit in not the cause of our financial crisis, Putin is responsible for everything ,well in a way that is a half truth as Putin financed Brexit through his oligarchs mates who donated to the Tories. The Londongrad money laundering cartel hide their vast fortunes they have ripped off the Russian people in British tax havens. The Torys then seeing how easy this is done then extorted the British people in the creation of a jolly Prince John economy where only the poor pay tax. Putin destabilises the EU and the fat Tories get richer in UK,Ok win win for the establishment.
    Dissolve the Union.


  3. The Tories, Labour and the LibDems use FMQs as a platform to relate their London-based party’s political agenda. They continually make sure they run down our education system, our NHS and our police force and our government – none of which is as bad as the version they would have us adopt. It’s blatant propaganda that is designed to put the FM and the SG on the defensive.


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