Education in Scotland

Attainment in Scotland is measured at ages 5, 11 and 16. At each stage there is an attainment gap between those from richer and poorer backgrounds. 

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Link to source: Scottish Government

For pupils aged 5, increasing deprivation was strongly associated with lower attainment, with gaps of 16 percentage points and 14 percentage points between children from the least, and the most, deprived areas for reading and numeracy respectively.

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Link to source: Scottish Government

At age 11 in Scotland, there continued to be marked differences in performance based on the deprivation of the area a child lives in. In 2016, the attainment gap between the most and least deprived areas was 21 percentage points for reading and 22 points for numeracy.

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Link to source: Scottish Government, Attainment and Leaver Destinations, supplementary data

The percentage of school leavers in Scotland achieving one or more Level 5 qualifications increased from 77% in 2009/10 to 86% in 2015/16. The gap between the least and most deprived areas has decreased by 33 to 20 percentage points in this period due to the improving performance of the most deprived groups.


Attainment data in Scotland is only available by area deprivation rather than family circumstances. This weakens the evidence about links between education and poverty in Scotland, and means that these findings are not directly comparable with those from other parts of the UK.