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Councils to be forced to improve education of poorer pupils

This news post is over 7 years old
 

Scottish Government bill to narrow the gap that sees children from richer backgrounds given the best chance to succeed at school

Local councils will have a legal duty imposed on them to make sure poorer pupils are as well educated as those from wealthier backgrounds, under new Scottish Government plans.

The education (Scotland) bill, introduced today by education secretary Angela Constance, places a statutory duty on councils to narrow the “attainment gap” among pupils and report on their progress.

It will require each local authority to create a chief education officer post, improve the process for dealing with complaints and ensure that all teachers are appropriately trained and qualified by requiring all teaching staff to be registered with the General Teaching Council Scotland.

Announcing the bill at St Mary’s RC Primary School in Leith, Constance said it was part of the government’s commitment to make sure every child is given the best chance to succeed.

She said: “Our bill underlines our expectations of local councils in the process of addressing educational inequality.

Councils to be forced to improve education of poorer pupils

A legal requirement to close the attainment gap shows that Scotland no longer accepts that lottery of birth matters more than a child’s talent or effort at school

Neil Mathers, Save the Children’s head of Scotland

“Specifically the bill will place a statutory duty on councils to narrow the attainment gap and introduce a new requirement for councils and ministers to report on progress in achieving that.

“I look forward to the parliamentary process where we can seek consensus on these provisions and the other measures that are being introduced in the bill.”

The bill has been welcomed by Scottish civil society organisations.

Neil Mathers, Save the Children’s head of Scotland, said: “A legal requirement to close the attainment gap shows that Scotland no longer accepts that lottery of birth matters more than a child’s talent or effort at school.

“This impetus is needed to focus the attention of all educators and hold those in power to account.

“We need to break the link between family income and children’s educational achievement. It is unacceptable that children living in low income households, and in deprived communities, have significantly less chance of doing well at school and it is unacceptable that this has continued for so long. There is no greater priority for Scottish education than to turn this around.”

The bill’s announcement coincided with details of a £1 million funding package to help councils buy new textbooks and other resources.

Iain Ellis, chair of National Parent Forum of Scotland, said: “We welcome this additional funding to support our children as they prepare this year for the new qualifications.

“We would ask authorities to ensure that this extra money reaches all secondary schools and that parent councils are informed at school level as to how the money will be spent.”

Larry Flanagan, Educational Institute of Scotland general secretary, said: “The introduction of Curriculum for Excellence has inevitably brought some financial implications for schools, so it is very welcome that the Scottish Government has listened to teachers' concerns in making this additional investment which will allow school resources such as textbooks to be updated.”

 

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