The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has launched a new report that raises serious concerns about the child poverty attainment gap in Scotland, describing it as “persistent and significant”.

The report was produced by Strathclyde University and claims that children from poorer families ‘start to fall behind better off peers from age three’.  This gap widens as they get older and impacts into adult life.

The study found 5 year olds from deprived background were a year behind in terms of vocabulary and problem solving and in early secondary school, only 28% of children from poorer families were doing well in numeracy, compared with 56% of those from more advantaged backgrounds.

Poorer children were more likely to leave school early without qualifications and were three times as likely to be unemployed and earn half as much as children from more advantaged backgrounds.

Jim McCormick from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “Scottish education serves many children well, but too many poor children risk becoming poor adults unless we close the attainment gap.

“This limits their life chances and prospects, which not only has a knock-on effect for them through unfulfilled potential, but for Scotland’s economic performance.”

The authors made the following observations and recommendations:-

  • A range of evidence-based approaches can reduce the attainment gap. These span: high-quality, pre-school education; whole-school reforms based on timely, relevant data; and closer partnerships between home and schools.
  • advice about developing the curriculum, improving educational outcomes for all pupils and inspecting schools should explicitly provide guidance on reducing the link between poverty and attainment;
  • lack of data, research and evaluation evidence for schools and local authorities currently hampers progress.

Source:  BBC News, JRF

NB: The Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy 2013 report and Scotland’s Wealth and Assets Survey 2008-10 were recently published by the Scottish Government


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