Attainment gap

Kezia Dugdale emulates the SNP by focusing on closing the “attainment gap” in Scottish ­education.

While almost all will fully support efforts to help children overcome disadvantages, surely there must be a concern that the education of the rest of pupils is being neglected among our political classes?

I’m not directly concerned about the “attainment gap”, or seeking a utopia of equal ­outcomes. Instead, the government should aim to raise the standards of attainment for all pupils.

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If closing an “attainment gap” is the priority, surely raising standards among the highest performing students is seen as less important, or even counter-productive.

Much of the education debate proceeds on the assumption that academic ability is distributed evenly among all sections of society, and that inequalities in academic outcomes are entirely caused by external factors such as poverty.

Differences in educational performance are therefore yet another example of social ­injustice.

This assumption is demonstrably false, founded in left wing dogma rather than empirical evidence.

A particular emphasis on helping the disadvantaged is justified, but not at the expense of seeking to continually raise the standards of all pupils – whether that widens the “attainment gap” or not.

Richard Lucas