New data from the Scottish Government has found that children’s numeracy standards in the country are dropping after just 40% of S2 students received scores of “well or very well” on tests.
In addition to over one-third of high school students not working at the level set for their age group, the data found a large gap existing between the performance of those from a wealthy background and those from a deprived background. That difference increased as the children grew older.
The data also found that one-third of elementary school students did not reach the highest level in their math courses. Meanwhile, only one-quarter of students from lower-income backgrounds reached the highest level of attainment.
Boys were found to typically score higher than girls at the S2 level.
Many politicians across the country have referred to the results as a “disgrace” and are using the findings in their push for additional help and resources to be placed in Scotland’s schools. Scottish Labour Education spokesman Iain Gray said:
“These figures are a disgrace, and show what happens when a government cuts education budgets by 10 per cent. Our children pay the price in poorer literacy and numeracy skills. We need to cut the gap between the richest and the rest to give our young people the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future, but we can only do that by investing in our schools.”
Green MSP Ross Greer said that the results show the new Education Secretary needs to come to terms with the amount of work that will be involved to rid the country of perpetual inequality. He called the gaps of 21 to 28 points between the numeracy results of the most and least deprived students “deeply worrying,” adding that swift action needed to be taken both in and out of the school system, writes Jane Bradley for The Scotsman.
New education secretary John Swinney did say that much work was needed to be done in order to improve the education system across the country, reports Mark McLaughlin for The Daily Record.
Survey results note the number of P4 students who performed either well or very well dropped between 2011 and 2013, with another drop between 2013 and 2015.
While performance levels evened out by P7 between 2013 and 2015 after falling between 2011 and 2013, S2 students continued to perform along the same line throughout all of the years used for the survey.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took a pledge alongside Swinney, promising to make Scotland’s education system world-class, to close the achievement gap, and to increase access to higher and further education for students who come from deprived backgrounds.
As a step to improve education in Scotland, the International Council of Education Advisors has been created by the new Cabinet. The group will meet in order to suggest improvements and lessons that can be taken from other countries. Expected to be formed over the summer, the panel will be made up of experts in closing the achievement gap, gaining equity, and system reform.
Sturgeon is expected to make a statement to Parliament this week to discuss Scotland’s priorities over the next five years, reports Kieran Andrews for The Courier.
Despite these efforts, Sturgeon has come under fire as the number of poor students being admitted to universities was found to be dropping. While she maintains that the government has been working to improve access to higher education in the country, she suggested that ministers would be forced to require universities to admit more deprived students if the situation did not improve. Several of the universities argued that the main reason they have not been able to admit more from this group of students had to deal with the cap placed on the number of Scottish students put in place by the SNP, writes Simon Johnson for The Telegraph.