The Herald is reporting that creating a new system where poor children attend school for more hours and take fewer summer holidays than rich children could be a solution to closing the attainment gap, according to one of the most influential education experts in Scotland.
Keir Bloomer, one of the key architects of the Scottish Government’s flagship education policy, the Curriculum for Excellence, pointed to the success of similar schemes in America which helped boost learning for pupils from poor backgrounds. Bloomer is also Chair of the Court of Queen Margaret University, Chair of the Commission on School Reform and Vice-convenor of Children in Scotland.
He believes that failure to get to grips with the gap would be “disastrous”and “condemn people to poor quality lifestyles”, likely to lead to higher levels of unemployment, a reliance on welfare benefits and higher rates of crime.
He maintained that while the Scottish Government was addressing overall standards and teaching it would not remove the gap unless disadvantaged children get “additional high quality opportunities” and “extra provision”, including longer school days.
“You don’t want to be holding learners back,” he said “so it’s quite right to do this and the Scottish Government has been advocating better teaching and better assessment. But because this brings benefits to more able, as well as disadvantaged pupils, you still need to do something to close the gap. The disadvantaged learners have got to get something extra. Not enough thought is given to the school day and year. We are just going to have to alter school days.”
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