ALMOST nine in ten (87%) headteachers in Scotland say improvements have been made in closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 Headteacher Survey found that 94% of headteachers expect to see improvements over the next few years as a result of Attainment Scotland Fund (ASF) supported approaches.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “It’s encouraging that our headteachers are continuing to report progress towards tackling the poverty-related attainment gap, despite the impact of the pandemic.

“We know the disruption caused by Covid-19 has presented serious challenges for learning and teaching in Scotland, as it has around the world.

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“But the response of schools and local authorities in adapting to this, supported by Attainment Scotland Funding, has been a testament to the resilience of Scottish education."

Last year, Somerville noted how it was pupils from the poorest backgrounds who had been worst affected during the coronavirus pandemic.

The attainment gap between pupils from the most and least deprived areas had grown to the highest level on record.

Last year, attainment figures for literacy revealed that 80.7% of primary pupils in the most affluent area were at or above the expected standard compared to 56% of those from the poorest backgrounds.

At First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon hit back at Douglas Ross after he claimed her drive for independence was distracting from education.

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Sommerville added: “Progress was being made in tackling the poverty-related attainment gap before the pandemic and we now need to increase the speed and scale of this.

“That is why one of our top priorities is to accelerate both recovery and progress in tackling the poverty-related attainment gap, supported by a record £1 billion investment in the Scottish Attainment Challenge over the course of this Parliament.”