Research on “what works” to close school attainment gap

New research project will share strategies which work in schools to help close the attainment gap.
New research project will share strategies which work in schools to help close the attainment gap.
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A major research programme looking at what tactics are working to help close the poverty-related attainment gap in schools is to be launched by the Scottish Government.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the Research Strategy for Scottish Education will harness research and best practice to provide “robust” evidence of what is successful in Scottish schools.

The strategy is based on recommendations from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and will also make use of international research.

In February the Sutton Trust think revealed that despite the Scottish Government’s aim to work to close the attainment gap there was a disparity equal to two years of school in maths, reading and science between pupils from poorer backgrounds in the top 10 per cent of achievers nationally compared to those in the same cohort but from richer backgrounds.

Mr Swinney said: “This government is firmly committed to creating a world-class education system that helps all of our children to succeed.

“To drive improvement and close the poverty-related attainment gap, we need to know what is working in our schools.

“Indeed, this was a key recommendation of the OECD’s independent review of Scottish education and Curriculum for Excellence.

“This research will give everyone involved in a child’s education – including parents, teachers, schools, local authorities and government - a more robust evidence base upon which to make decisions about how to support every young person in Scotland to reach their full potential.”

The impact of measures taken will be reviewed annually while the strategy will be evaluated after five years.

Seamus Searson, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, described the strategy as a “great opportunity” but said many of the innovations carried out in schools towards fighting the attainment gap had been eroded.

“Teachers want to be part of this, they are working in our schools and know the systems.

“There has been lots of good practice in schools over the decades but due to austerity measures a lot of these have faded away.

“We have lots of experts “inside the house” in schools but teachers are so busy working to get pupils national qualifications that there is just not the time to take on more.”

Mr Searson added: “I’m all for implementing measures proven to work but these need to be financed properly and I’d like details on how much money is available.”