Schools ‘fail­ing hopes of poorer chil­dren’

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Kate Fos­ter Scot­tish Health Ed­i­tor

PUPILS are be­ing failed by a Scot­tish education sys­tem that does not help ful­fil their am­bi­tions, claim re­searchers.

Par­ents from all back­grounds want the best for their chil­dren, but lower-in­come fam­i­lies are less likely to know what is pos­si­ble or how to achieve it, a study found.

The find­ings from the Univer­sity of Stir­ling chal­lenge the myth of a ‘poverty of as­pi­ra­tion’ among poorer fam­i­lies.

Dr Morag Tre­anor, se­nior lec­turer in So­ci­ol­ogy, an­a­lysed in­for­ma­tion on 3,500 young Scots and their fam­i­lies.

She said: ‘Chil­dren’s less suc­cess­ful progress in education is of­ten blamed on their, or their par­ents’, poor as­pi­ra­tions.

‘As­pi­ra­tions are seen as crit­i­cal for clos­ing the at­tain­ment gap be­tween young peo­ple of high and low so­cioe­co­nomic back­grounds.’

Dr Tre­anor added: ‘While the poverty of as­pi­ra­tion myth is al­lowed to per­pet­u­ate, it will con­tinue to dis­tract from the ways in which chil­dren liv­ing in poverty are failed by the education sys­tem. To close the at­tain­ment gap, schools should im­prove the ev­ery­day ex­pe­ri­ence for poorer chil­dren, by ed­u­cat­ing teach­ers about poverty and us­ing funds to sup­port pupils and staff.’

The re­port, pub­lished by the Cen­tre for Re­search on Fam­i­lies and Re­la­tion­ships, an­a­lysed re­sponses from the Grow­ing up in Scot­land study, which is track­ing the lives of thou­sands of chil­dren and their fam­i­lies from birth through to the teenage years and be­yond.

The SNP has faced re­peated crit­i­cism for at­tain­ment lev­els in Scot­tish school chil­dren. Per­for­mance in lit­er­acy in P4, P7 and S2 has slumped since 2012.

Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive shadow education sec­re­tary Liz Smith said last night: ‘The SNP Gov­ern­ment has failed over the last decade to make any real progress on this area.

‘That’s why it should take this use­ful con­tri­bu­tion se­ri­ously and con­sider some of the rec­om­men­da­tions pro­posed.’

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: ‘We are de­ter­mined to help ev­ery child achieve their po­ten­tial, no mat­ter their back­ground or cir­cum­stances.’

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