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by Tom Freeman
24 March 2015
Tackling attainment gap to become legal requirement for councils

Tackling attainment gap to become legal requirement for councils

Efforts to improve educational outcomes for Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people are to be underpinned by law, if new legislation unveiled today is passed.

The Education (Scotland) Bill, launched today by Education Secretary Angela Constance will place a statutory duty on councils to narrow the ‘attainment’ gap and require councils and Scottish Ministers to report on progress.

“Our Bill underlines our expectations of local councils in the process of addressing educational inequality,” she said.

Scottish councils’ umbrella body COSLA questioned the need for legislation. Councillor Douglas Chapman, COSLA Education, Children and Young People Spokesperson said local authorities are just as committed to improving attainment as the Scottish Government.

“The moral, economic and social case for closing the attainment gap has already been won, even if practically there is still a massive job to do. The question is whether legislation will help us making progress in this vital task,” he said.

Other parts of the Bill include making it necessary for teachers in independent and grant aided schools to be registered with the General Teaching Council Scotland, making it easier for complaints to be handled quickly and promotion of Gaelic.

Chapman said COSLA would provide “constructive” evidence for the Bill as it progresses through parliament.

“We will raise issues around the practicality of delivering more Gaelic medium education at a time when many councils still find it difficult to recruit qualified teachers. We will also question the need for a chief education official when councils already employ extremely dedicated and well qualified senior education staff,” he said.

Neil Mathers, Save the Children’s head of Scotland welcomed the Bill. “This impetus is needed to focus the attention of all educators and hold those in power to account. We need to break the link between family income and children’s educational achievement,” he said.

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