Despite the limited progress that has been made, in this country we still have a care system in which more than 60 per cent of children do not attain even one national 5 qualification
, care-experienced young people are around 10 times less likely to go on to higher education and, in every age group and at every level, young people are behind their peers in literacy and numeracy. Those statistics embarrass me, and they should embarrass Scotland. If they embarrass the First Minister, what is she going to do about it?
I am grateful to Kezia Dugdale for raising that issue, which is very close to my heart. I have made it clear that I consider that I have made not just a political commitment but a personal commitment to improve the outcomes of young people who grow up in care. On Friday last week, I attended a Who Cares? Scotland event to talk about the actions that that organisation thinks we should take now while the independent care review is under way, and I gave a commitment that we would do exactly that. We have already taken action—for example, by introducing the bursary for care-experienced students—and we will continue to do so.
The outcomes are not good enough, not just on school qualifications but on university access and a range of other indicators. There is work to do, and the Government and I take the issue incredibly seriously. I know that Kezia Dugdale will recognise that, although there is a gap as she has described, the recent statistics show that the gap is closing. Our responsibility is to continue to work to close that gap even further and, ultimately, as soon as we can, completely eradicate it. That is what we are focused on achieving.