New analysis of Scottish pupils’ performance shows the Government has “failed utterly” over the past decade to set education on the right course, Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said.
She said a report from the Sutton Trust revealed “particularly shameful” findings on attainment and science.
Researchers at the trust found a gap equivalent to more than two years in schooling for science, reading and maths between poor pupils in the top 10% of achievers nationally compared to their equally clever but well-off peers.
Their analysis used the latest results from international Pisa tests to examine the performance of 10% of the most able pupils in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, taking into account their background.
In the past decade, the gap in science performance between all pupils in Scotland has increased by around a year of schooling, described in the report as a ‘’major weakness’’.
Ms Davidson seized on the findings during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood.
She said: “We now see the consequences of 10 wasted years of this SNP Government and the harm it has done to the life chances of our pupils.”
Ms Davidson described the Government’s legacy as a “generation of Scottish children who are being left behind in the race for qualifications and for future jobs”.
Nicola Sturgeon said it was important to note that the Sutton Trust’s report was based on data that pre-dates its latest measures to close the attainment gap.
“It is an important report. It is one that aides our understanding of the challenges we need to address in order to tackle the attainment gap,” she said.
“I think it is important to note, though, that the Sutton Trust does not present new data. It is analysis of the Pisa scores that were published in December. Of course, the Pisa scores are based on a survey that was carried out two years ago.
“A survey that pre-dates the Attainment Challenge and pre-dates the reforms to our education system that are under way.”