Social class in the classroom: the truth about Scotland’s attainment gap

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In recent years, Scottish education has been dominated by talk of ‘closing the attainment gap’ – but what does that really mean, how much progress has been made, and do we have any hope of success? Join James McEnaney as he separates the rhetoric from the reality, uncovers the truth about the challenges facing schools, and considers what actions we could take to really make a difference for young people facing poverty and deprivation.

Key Learnings

  • What is the attainment gap and how do we measure it?
  • What does the data really tell us?
  • What did we learn from the 2020 results scandal?
  • Can schools close the attainment gap? Can anyone?
  • What can we do for young people facing deprivation?


James McEnaney is a lecturer, former secondary school teacher, journalist and author. Having completed a PDGE at UWS (Ayr) in 2010-2011, he began his teaching career on Arran at the island’s only high school. After returning to the mainland and taking up a teaching post in an FE college, he also began to investigate and report on emerging issues in Scottish education such as the introduction of standardised testing and the reality of literacy and numeracy statistics. His most recent book Class Rules: the Truth about Scottish Schools, explores areas including the attainment gap, teachers’ working conditions, the exam system and more.

System requirements for attendees

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