New research shows attainment gap in Scotland is now widening

5 Nov 2015

The performance gap between wealthier and poorer pupils in Scotland’s schools is now getting wider, research by the Scottish Conservatives has revealed.

Figures obtained through Freedom of Information have shown children from more affluent homes are seven times more likely to get three As in Highers than their more deprived peers.

And according to the latest statistics, not a single student from the most deprived 20 per cent in four of Scotland’s council areas achieved the three As required to get into many of the best universities.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions today, challenging Nicola Sturgeon to explain why – after more than eight years in government – the SNP was presiding over a worsening situation.

The FoI response showed that, of pupils who sat Higher exams last year, 21.13 per cent of the most privileged achieved three As, up from 20.31 per cent in 2013.

But in the poorest fifth, just 2.99 per cent got three As, compared to 2.90 per cent the year before.

That means the attainment gap increased by one per cent between 2013 and 2014, despite SNP pledges to close it.

Earlier this week, Reform Scotland released a report saying the Scottish Government was not doing aciphex enough to close the attainment gap, urging a more radical approach to make genuine improvements.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:

“We already knew the SNP was failing to close the attainment gap – now we know it’s actually getting wider.

“The Scottish Government has completely failed to make it easier for the most disadvantaged children to have the same opportunities as their wealthier counterparts.

“Nicola Sturgeon keeps saying she wants the SNP to be judged on its record.

“In education, that record is one of failure, and the experts say her plans won’t fix it.

“Our research has revealed that, in four councils, not a single pupil from the least affluent homes attained three As in their Highers.

“A wealthier pupil is now seven times more likely to get three As than their poorer classmates.

“The Scottish Government needs to offer a proper explanation as to why it’s failing these children after more than eight years in government.”

Notes to editors:
To see the two tables, from 2013 and 2014, showing the percentage of pupils attaining three As at Higher level, and their background, contact the Scottish Conservative press office.
Earlier this week, Reform Scotland released a report criticising the SNP’s performance on closing the attainment gap: