SCOTTISH teenagers spend more time studying out of school than their English peers – but the study gap between rich and poor is twice as big in this country.

Analysis of the international PISA survey by the education charity Sutton Trust found 15 year olds in Scotland spend 17.8 hours per week on non-compulsory study, compared with 15.6 hours for their English counterparts.

However, pupils from low income families lag far behind, with this homework gap far more pronounced in Scotland at 2.9 fewer hours, compared with a deficit of 1.3 hours south of the Border.

The report, published today, warns of a “a substantial barrier to social mobility”, with extra parental support and private tuition creating a “glass floor” for pupils from better-off families.

The Trust says school-provided homework clubs could give disadvantaged pupils the extra support they need. It is also calling for more support for learners from low-income households to access private tuition, and urging more specialist agencies to dedicate a proportion of their work to disadvantaged pupils at no cost.

Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “Outside of the classroom, an educational arms race entrenches advantage for those who can afford it. Our new research shows that pupils from better-off homes get much more help with their homework and private tuition than those from less well-off homes.

“We need to make sure that the academic playing field is levelled outside of the school gate by the state providing funding for private tuition on a means-tested basis.”

Report author Dr John Jerrim, of the UCL Institute of Education, said: “These figures show that in the UK children from poorer homes receive significantly less help with their studies outside of school than in many of the other countries surveyed.

“As a result, children of high ability from low-income families are not receiving the kinds of educational opportunities they should. More support is needed to ensure these pupils are given vital additional support with their learning in order to keep up with children of similar ability from more affluent backgrounds.”