Academic attainment is a crucial factor in determining the options available to young people when they leave school. Young people have suffered severe learning loss as a result of school closures, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds have been among those hardest hit.
Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in England are now 18.1 months of learning behind their peers by the time they finish their GCSEs – which is the same gap as five years ago (Education Policy Institute, 2020). In Scotland, research shows that young people from the most socially advantaged neighbourhoods are twice as likely to obtain at least one Scottish Higher (SCQF level 6) as those from the most deprived neighbourhoods (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, 2020). This gap is now the focus of a major government intervention, the Scottish Attainment Challenge.