Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart has urged the Scottish Government to "put recovery first" after new official statistics showed one measure of the poverty-related attainment gap at its widest point since 2012/13.
The Summary Statistics for Attainment and Initial leaver Destinations showed:
- "The gap between the proportion of school leavers from the most deprived and least deprived areas attaining 1 pass or more at SCQF Level 4 or better, was 7.1 percentage points...the widest it has been since 2012/13"
- "At SCQF Level 5 or better, the gap was 20.8 percentage points in 2019/20"
- "At SCQF Level 6 or better, the gap was 36.1 percentage points in 2019/20"
Beatrice Wishart MSP commented:
“We all know that the exams system was very different last year. Even so, the attainment gap was steadily widening at SCQF Level 4 before the pandemic struck, and today’s statistics show the same pattern. The Scottish Government can't shrug this off. It would have been much worse if it hadn't been for pupils and Parliament forcing John Swinney to ditch his exams algorithm which actively penalised pupils from the poorest backgrounds.
"Last spring the Scottish Government allowed Pupil Equity Funding to be diverted to other areas, when pupils from poorer backgrounds needed the extra help it affords the most. Today's statistics show why that was the wrong decision and why this was the moment to do more not less.
"We need a government that will put recovery first, with a needle-sharp focus on helping the education system bounce back.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see every hour spent in school count for more, with more resources in every classroom. We also need the reform of Education Scotland and the SQA that Scottish Liberal Democrats won the support of Parliament for last week. Teachers and pupils have been full of good ideas throughout the pandemic, but the same can't be said of John Swinney's quangos."