Scottish Greens Education Spokesperson Ross Greer MSP has slammed Education Scotland for being ‘wilfully blind’ to school inequality, following an evidence session on subject choice at Holyrood’s education committee this morning.
Research suggests that pupils in the most deprived areas can have six fewer Highers offered than peers in the least deprived, significantly limiting their ability to meet university entry requirements. Education Scotland chief executive Gail Gorman denied that this was the case, despite, research, including that by the Times newspaper and education experts Mark Priestley and Marina Shapira having been available for some time.
Education Scotland representatives suggested that pupils can travel to other schools to take up subjects not available at their own but when Ross Greer highlighted that this results in pupils missing classroom time or extra-curricular activities to travel, Strategic Director of Education Scotland, Allan Armstrong, claimed that the ‘motivation’ pupils receive from going to different schools ‘can more than compensate’ for these lost opportunities. Mr Greer cautioned Education Scotland not to repeat such a ridiculous claim.
Ross Greer MSP said:
“We know that pupils in the poorest communities regularly have fewer subjects to choose from than those in the wealthiest areas. This is clear, verifiable inequality and Scotland’s national education body seem wilfully blind to it. Frankly, it’s shocking to hear officials claim that the ‘motivation’ which apparently comes from travelling to another school somehow makes up for the opportunities missed due to that daily travel time. A young person’s opportunities to learn shouldn’t depend on the wealth of their postcode but that is clearly what’s happening, despite Education Scotland’s ridiculous denials.”