Date lodged: 21 September 2016
To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making in addressing the reported gap in educational attainment with regard to (a) school qualifications, (b) university places and (c) college places.
Answered by: John Swinney 29 September 2016
The 2015 Interim Framework Report of the National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education presents a range of evidence which demonstrates that we are making progress in reducing the gap in educational attainment between pupils from our most and least deprived communities. For example, the interim report presents evidence on the attainment gap with regards to school qualifications at SCQF levels three to six, showing that across all levels the gap has decreased slightly between 2011-12 and 2013-14. This report will be updated in December 2016 with data for 2014-15.
The key issue in relation to colleges and universities is the participation of those from our most deprived areas rather than a gap in attainment. This is an area in which colleges continue to perform strongly: in 2014-15 29.1% of all college students were from Scotland’s 20% most deprived areas.
In relation to universities, in 2014/15 14% of Scottish domiciled, full-time first degree entrants were from our 20% most deprived areas, up from 11.2% in 2006-07 (an increase of over 1,000 entrants).
Despite this progress, we know there is a need to do more. That is why we expanded the Scottish Attainment Challenge to invest £750 million over the course of this Parliament to reduce the attainment gap in school, and why we have established the Commission on Widening Access to advise on the actions necessary to achieve step change and committed to the full implementation of its recommendations.