Attainment figures must be published

Everyone knows that children in Scotland deserve the very best start in life.

A quality education is key to making Scotland the best again. It increases opportunity, boosts the economy and enables children to fulfil their potential.

We know that Scottish education used to be the best in the world. Now the OECD says it is just average.

I don’t think that is good enough.

One of the biggest challenges we face as we work to improve education in Scotland is closing the attainment gap between children from the richest and poorest backgrounds.

This gap between children from different economic circumstances emerges early, well before they start school. And it grows and grows until children leave formal education.

The result of this is that children from poorer backgrounds are less likely to do well at standard grades or highers.

They are less likely to go on to college or university.

This gap affect children right across the country.

The First Minister says that closing the attainment gap must be a priority.

She is absolutely right.

But we do not solve a problem by brushing it under the carpet.

And that is what seems to be happening this year.

Over the past five years the results of the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy have been published in March or April.

But this year, despite the survey taking place last May as usual, the results of the survey will not be published until 31 May.

The results of the last two of these surveys have shown overall literacy and numeracy standards are slipping and the attainment gap is widening.

It seems convenient that we’re being expected to wait more than a month longer than ever before to get sight of the most up-to-date statistics on literacy and numeracy.

The fear is that this jiggery-pokery from the government is to cover up embarrassing figures ahead of the election.

I say that is not good enough.

If the numbers are positive, publish them so we can celebrate the achievement of pupils across Scotland.

If they are bad, publish them so we know exactly the challenge that our education system is facing.

Children and parents deserve honesty from the Scottish Government over their education record.

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