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by Kate Shannon
23 December 2016
Poverty and education: helping young people reach their potential

Poverty and education: helping young people reach their potential

School education: Photo credit - woodleywonderworks on Flickr

The First Minister launched the Scottish Attainment Challenge in February 2015 with the aim to achieve equity in educational outcomes. The Scottish Government said it is underpinned by the National Improvement Framework, Curriculum for Excellence and Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC).

The Scottish Attainment Challenge focuses on targeted improvement activity in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing in specific areas of Scotland. It also supports and complements the broader range of initiatives and programmes to ensure that all of Scotland’s children and young people reach their full potential. A £750m Attainment Scotland Fund is a targeted initiative focused on supporting pupils in the local authorities of Scotland with the highest concentrations of deprivation.  

However, it has been criticised for only focusing on nine local authorities, though additional funding has allowed schools from outside those authorities to apply.

At least 7,000 children in Scotland have problems in language and speech development in the early years, according to the Save the Children, and are twice as likely to do so among more deprived communities. The charity’s research shows that children who struggle with speech and language in their early years are often still behind their peers in key literacy skills at the age 11.

In Scotland, one in five children growing up in poverty leaves primary school not reading well.  

Save the Children’s policy manager, Vicky Crichton, said: “At the moment, poverty is damaging too many children’s education before they have even set foot in a classroom. If we’re serious about closing the gap, we must seize the chance to take action – not just in our schools, but to support children’s learning in their first few months and years.

“Children need to start school with more than just new shoes and a school bag – they also need to have benefitted from high quality learning and play experiences that give them the language skills to thrive.”

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