As outlined in the national improvement framework interim report, a range of measures suggest that we are making progress in narrowing the education attainment gap in Scotland. For example, school leaver data shows that the gap in attainment at Scottish credit and qualifications framework level 5 or better has decreased over the past three years from 28 percentage points in 2011-12 to 23 percentage points in 2013-14. However, there is still work to do, and everyone involved in Scottish education needs to focus their efforts relentlessly on reducing the impact of deprivation on educational outcomes.
As the cabinet secretary may know, the area of Mayfield and Easthouses in my constituency has historically been ranked among the 10 most deprived in educational terms, according to the Scottish index of multiple deprivation. What specific steps will be taken to help the areas that are ranked in that percentile?
As the First Minister announced, our intention in the next session of Parliament would be to make progressive changes to local taxation to raise an additional £100 million annually for schools. That funding will see the reach of the attainment Scotland fund extend to every part of Scotland, including the communities of Mayfield and Easthouses in Mr Beattie’s constituency. We will allocate the money directly to headteachers, so that they can invest in what they need to support children to learn and to raise attainment. That means that, over the next session, we will commit an extra £0.75 billion, over and above existing budgets, to raise the attainment of the most disadvantaged children and young people in our country.
I cannot explain that in detail in the time that I am permitted. I will write to Mr Gray about it. In extending the reach of the attainment Scotland fund, we have tried to take a very comprehensive approach to some of the systemic issues. We are targeting resources nationally, at community level and at school level.