I want to begin this week’s column by congratulating young people across East Lothian, their families, teachers and other school staff on the results from last week. They have gone through exceptional circumstances and have all performed nothing short of miracles this year.
While results locally were encouraging, figures overall show that the attainment gap has grown, with the difference between the proportion of pupils from the wealthiest and poorest areas getting A grades at Higher having increased to 22.1pp, its highest point since before 2017.
Scottish education has suffered from a total lack of leadership this year. We see this in everything from the late cancellation of exams, to the shambolic roll out of the Alternative Certification Model, to the appeals system which took none of this year’s extraordinary circumstances into account.
Staff have done brilliantly well dealing with ever-changing restrictions and a shocking lack of support and advice from the Scottish Government. Our young people and school staff deserve better than this.
Schools and pupils are now back after the summer holiday and I hope that everyone will be able to enjoy an educational experience much closer to ‘normal’ in the year ahead.
As pupils return it is worth noting again that anyone who is eligible can still apply for Free School Meals and School Clothing Grants for this academic year. Visit East Lothian Council’s website to check eligibility and apply.
Finally, again on young people’s recovery, I recently met with local Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament to discuss their Bounce Back campaign and issues of concern to young people.
The campaign is calling for the Scottish Government and local councils to adopt a human rights-based approach to the recovery from Covid and ensure that young people have meaningful input to decisions that affect their lives. I was very impressed by the campaign and was pleased to pledge my support for it.
Find out more at www.syp.org.uk/campaign/bounce-back.