There are often, in these columns, calls for the government to take action, and criticism of it for failing to do so, or that the action it does takes is not as effective as it is claimed. Recently we have highlighted the problems in Scottish education, particularly in closing the attainment gap – one of First Minister Nichola Sturgeon’s key priorities . Recent figures showed that academic standards were down, and the Sutton Trust published a report that showed the attainment gap was widening.
It was said at the time those reports were based on data that was two years old, although the figures were not dismissed or taken lightly.
The First Minister also said that initiatives such as the Attainment Gap Fund which would see £120 million in extra funding being given to Scottish schools, with most going to schools in deprived areas, would help.
So when there is good news it is only right that we highlight that too, so fair’s fair: The recent figures which show a record number of young people in Scotland’s most deprived communities are continuing their education, undergoing training or getting a job after they leave school, are to be welcomed.
For school leavers in the most deprived areas, the proportion in an initial “positive destination” – higher or further education, training, voluntary work, employment or activity – has risen by almost 5 per cent in five years to 88.7 per cent.
Now, that could be criticised as too little, but it should not be thought of as 1 per cent per year, it should be thought of as the many individuals who now have better prospects. And that is before the extra money comes through.