Ministers accused of ‘lack of urgency’ over pupil equity audit

The Scottish Government has been accused of a "complete lack of urgency" in committing to undertake a pupil equity audit.

The Scottish Government has been accused of a “complete lack of urgency” in committing to undertake a pupil equity audit to help close the attainment gap.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and School Leaders Scotland (SLS) have backed calls for an urgent review to better understand the impact of school closures on Scotland’s most disadvantaged pupils.

It comes amid a widely predicted increase in the poverty-related attainment gap.

Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray has now accused the Scottish Government of a lack of urgency.

He said: “Warm words aren’t enough for those children and young people at the wrong end of Scotland’s attainment gap and with schools due to go back in just a matter of weeks now, the Scottish Government are showing a complete lack of urgency to take serious actions to address this growing inequality by undertaking a pupil equity audit.

“The education secretary admitted he has held discussions directly with the teaching unions who are calling for an equity audit and weeks ago even attended remotely an international teaching conference alongside the OECD, looking at how to deal with the impact of Covid-19 on school education and pupils learning, at which such an audit was recommended.

“Despite education being the Scottish Government’s top priority, time is not on the side of the education secretary.

“Local government, teachers and pupils all need urgent support and resources.

“The attainment gap may even continue to widen when schools return under the blended learning model where homeschooling is in place, yet the impact will remain unknown and unchallenged.

“The education secretary also refused to commit to finding additional resources to fund his blended learning model or address the impact of Covid-19 on disadvantaged pupils.

“Without a pupil equity audit being urgently commissioned, the Scottish Government risk letting a generation of young people down.”

Education secretary John Swinney failed to commit the Scottish Government to undertake such an audit under questioning during Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee on Friday.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The challenges presented by the current pandemic mean that efforts to deliver equity in education are more important than ever.

“The efforts the Scottish Government has taken to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap provide strong foundations to address this issue.

“Earlier this week we confirmed £50m of funding to those schools and local authorities most in need to help close the poverty-related attainment gap.

“This is on top of previous announcements of £250m for Pupil Equity Funding over the next two years.

“In addition, the Scottish Government is investing £9m for 25,000 laptops – with internet access provided – for disadvantaged children to support learning outside school.

“This is the first phase of our £30m commitment to support digital inclusion.”

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