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Closing the gap in Scottish education: is it possible?


Gary Robertson (photo courtesy of the BBC) interviewed Keir on Good Morning Scotland yesterdayday, shortly after he talked to Larry Flanagan (EIS) and before Iain Gray (Labour Party spokesman for education). Now that Nicola Sturgeon has proposed that her government be judged by its success in "closing the gap", there has been a flurry of interest in Keir's comments on this issue. On yesterday's phone-in with Kaye Adams, there was also plenty of confusion about what it actually means.

He is talking about the attainment gap between pupils from areas of deprivation and poverty compared with those from affluent areas. The easiest way to do it, wholly unacceptably of course, would be to dumb down or hold back pupils with greater educational success. To some extent the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence and limitation of the number of Highers has already done this, albeit by accident. The hardest time to close the gap is when you are already committed to improving the attainment of all pupils. As Keir pointed out, abolishing the gap (the First Minister's declared goal) would means improving the performance of the weakest pupils at an astonishingly fast rate.

He reminds us that children from poorer areas are already a full year behind the more favoured pupils before they even start school. Given the failure of various honest attempts to "close the gap" in Scottish education over the past 70-odd years, Nicola Sturgeon has certainly taken on a massive challenge. The programme is available via iPlayer here and Keir's interview  lasts for five minutes, starting after about 1 hour and 37 minutes.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 21, 2015 3:37 PM.

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