Covid lockdown: Scotland needs to do more to ensure poorest children get a decent education – Brian Wilson
This applies to death rates, loss of income and, perhaps most cruelly in the longer term, education. During the first lockdown “students in the richest third saw their learning time reduce much less than their poorer peers”. Well, of course they did.
Could more not be attempted this time to address that reality in Scotland, where inequalities are already extreme? Blanket decisions, with little room for light and shade, should not exclude reasonable options.
Even if closing most schools reflects the balance of public good, would that balance not be enhanced if, let’s say, schools in the ten per cent most deprived areas remained open?
What of home learning? According to Edinburgh University’s Professor Lindsay Paterson: “Scotland was less effective at distributing laptops to poor pupils than any of the UK nations. The 50,000 funded by the Scottish government would cover only about seven per cent, less than a third of pupils living in poverty.”
He highlights vast differentials in support from schools and lack of preparedness by education quangos for a second lockdown with a particular word for Education Scotland’s “patronising homilies”. Wherever one looks the biggest losers are the poorest kids.
Glasgow went out on a limb by keeping all schools open for vulnerable children while reaching out to those who don’t self-define in this way.
That is commendable and should be emulated elsewhere. Anything that protects the most disadvantaged from further disadvantage is worth considering as opposed to one-size-fits-all approaches which overlook social realities.
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