Liz May: Chance to close the gap in attainment

Closing the educational attainment gap will help deliver a more equal society. Picture: John Devlin
Closing the educational attainment gap will help deliver a more equal society. Picture: John Devlin
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RADICAL plans needed from a radical party, argues Liz May

With the return of an SNP government, there is a real opportunity to deliver on its ambitions to close the educational attainment gap and deliver a more equal society.

It should, of course, be highlighted that we would like to pass our thanks to all the political parties for the commitments they gave in their manifestos to address the needs of vulnerable children and young people in our society.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition’s vision, to make Scotland one of the best places in the world for vulnerable children and young people to grow up, is a bold one, but with the mandate the Scottish Government now has, it is a vision that it should aspire to.

The SNP’s manifesto set out the challenge to deliver “an equal and fair society”. Set against a background of dramatic public spending cuts, this will mean innovative thinking and greater partnership working with independent and third sector service providers is needed to deliver on this. More than one in five pupils are identified as having additional support needs, and so if we are to reduce the attainment gap, we must provide them with the care and support they need.

There has been a great focus on improving the lives of care experienced children and young people. This aspiration must be turned into a reality and a root and branch review of the Scottish care system undertaken. We are heartened that the First Minister is sympathetic to this proposal.

There is a cross-party consensus that much more needs to be done to help the increasing number of children and young people suffering from mental health problems. There is a welcome refocus on preventative support and early intervention and we await the mental health strategy due out this year with interest.

We would urge the Scottish Government to be bold, innovative and to hold firm to its radical roots in its efforts to close the attainment gap.

• Liz May, Action for Sick Children Scotland, member of the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition