Religious schooling won’t help tackle Scotland’s attainment gap

The report said pupils attending Catholic schools had no better atttainment than non-denominational schools (file photo)
The report said pupils attending Catholic schools had no better atttainment than non-denominational schools (file photo)
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Catholic schools do not result in a better education for pupils or help tackle the “attainment gap” between rich and poor areas of the country, a leading think has said in a report today.

IPPR Scotland, which conducts research into public education, suggested that a religious ethos had no impact on pupils’ educational outcomes.

As part of the report, titled Autonomy In The Right Place, the organisation looked at the two main school types in Scotland to consider whether they affected attainment.

Its analysis found 45.37 per cent of pupils in religious schools get three highers or more compared to 45.96 per cent in non-religious schools, while 58.81 per cent in religious schools meet literacy and numeracy targets, compared to 59.64 per cent in non-religious schools.

Russell Gunson, director of IPPR Scotland, said: “Once you take account of intake, there is no evidence to suggest that denominational schools, or non-denominational schools see better school performance or attainment.

“It may or may not be the case that different school types add value in other ways, but on the issue of pupil attainment, the hard evidence shows that a religious ethos in itself doesn’t make a difference.

Catholic schools account for 366 of the 370 state-funded faith school schools in Scotland. There are just over 2,500 schools across Scotland in total.

The report also calls for schools to be handed greater freedom from local council control with “teachers, pupils and parents” in the driving seat of how they are run. It recommends creating New Regional Educational Partnerships, which will operate across councils to foster a culture of evidence.

It believes new parent and pupil councils could bring greater accountability and devolution to schools.

Today’s IPPR Scotland report follows research at the weekend that showed Catholics in Scotland suffer a higher risk of death and are at greater risk of economic disadvantage relative to Protestants than their counterparts in Northern Ireland.