Poorer pupils ‘continue to suffer more’ amid pandemic

The EIS said the consequences of coronavirus could deepen the disadvantage experienced by youngsters living in poverty.

Poorer pupils ‘continue to suffer more’ amid pandemic Getty Images
Poverty fears: The Educational Institute of Scotland called for intervention.

Young people from poorer backgrounds continue to face worse consequences due to the pandemic, according to a teaching union.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) called for intervention as it claimed the consequences of coronavirus could further deepen the disadvantage experienced by youngsters currently living in poverty.

A struggle to find resources for remote learning was given as an example of how the poverty-related attainment gap could be entrenched further.

Larry Flanagan, EIS general secretary, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a damaging impact on the education of young people right across Scotland, and it is young people already facing disadvantage who have felt this most acutely.

“Young people from less affluent backgrounds are far less likely to have access to the types of resources that are available to young people in other areas, which has clearly had an impact during the pandemic.

“Young people living in poverty were far more likely to disengage from education during the lockdown period for a wide range of reasons – including lack of access to IT equipment or suitable access to the internet.

“This has the potential to further entrench, or even widen, the poverty-related attainment gap that persists in many parts of Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government has worked with key partners to provide and adapt a range of support for those children and families facing particular disadvantages or additional vulnerabilities during this crisis.

“An estimated 122,000 children and young people are eligible for free school meals because their families are in receipt of qualifying benefits, and the Scottish Government provided local authority partners with £30m of new investment to support families unable to access food as a result of Covid-19, with £15m specifically for free school meals.

“Funding has been provided for a range of local and national projects, including through the £350m communities support package announced last year to help those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This includes extra support for care-experienced young people, providing updated advice and IT support for families, and responding to a rising demand for counselling from children and young people.”

“Experience has shown that access to technology and digital capability is, and will remain, a fundamental aspect of education in Scotland.

“We have committed to tackling digital exclusion amongst disadvantaged children and young people through the £25m investment in devices and connectivity.”