NEW figures on the poverty-related attainment gap in Scotland’s schools show a real recovery from the pandemic, the Education Secretary has said, although they remain above pre-Covid levels.

The Scottish Government has made reducing the gap between the most and least well-off pupils its key education mission, logging achievements in Curriculum for Excellence in primaries one, four and seven and S3.

The curriculum breaks achievement down into four levels, spread across literacy, numeracy, listening and talking, writing and reading, between the start of primary school and S3. In all of these indicators, the poverty-related gap for S3 pupils earning the third level or better has widened since 2018-19, the last available figures for secondary schools.

For reading, the gap has widened from 11.5% to 14.2% between 2018-19 and 2021-22, from 12.2% to 15.1% in writing, from 10% to 12.7% in speaking and listening, 13.8% to 16.3% in literacy and 13.5% to 15% in numeracy.

On average, the gap went from 12.2% to 14.7% for S3 pupils achieving the third level in these metrics.

The gap for S3 pupils achieving the fourth and highest level in these markers all fell but remained around the 30% mark, with the most well-off pupils showing a marked difference in achievement compared to their more deprived counterparts.

While Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville heralded the “record” fall in the attainment gap in primary schools.

On average, the attainment gap remains higher than before Covid in Scotland’s primary schools. The gap has risen from 17.34% in 2018-19 to 18.22% in 2021-22 in primaries one, four and seven, according to analysis of the data.

Somerville said there was “no time for complacency”, adding: “These figures demonstrate a real recovery from the pandemic and underline our progress towards tackling the poverty-related attainment gap, and achieving excellence for all of Scotland’s children and young people.

“This record improvement over one year for primary pupils achieving the expected levels in numeracy and literacy also shows more young people are getting the support they need to reach their full potential.

“However, there is no room for complacency. I recognise that attainment levels are still largely below pre-pandemic levels and the publication of local stretch aims by local councils last week sets out clear plans to significantly narrow the poverty-related attainment gap in the years ahead.

“We know that the impact of the pandemic – compounded by the current cost of living crisis – means children and young people need our support now more than ever.

“We are determined to do all we can to ensure they can reach their full potential, including a record investment of £1 billion over this parliamentary term in the Scottish Attainment Challenge.”