- 13 Jan 2021
As a result of the impact of COVID-19, Protecting Scotland, Renewing Scotland: the 2020-21 Programme for Government confirmed its commitment to undertake an equity audit:
“A longer term strategy will be required to help address the impact the pandemic has had on some of the most vulnerable children and families. The implementation of an Equity Audit will deepen our understanding of the impact on children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and set clear areas of focus for accelerating recovery.”
This understanding is particularly important in the absence of the 2019/20 Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Level (ACEL) data, which could not be collected during the period of school closures.
The equity audit focused particularly on the impact of the school building closures from 20 March 2020 to the early stages of re-opening of schools on 11 August 2020. It also examined evidence of actions to re-open schools to all pupils in August, and to keep them safe, open and welcoming with a focus on health, wellbeing and intensified support for learning.
The audit was undertaken through two complementary phases; an evidence review and a detailed analysis based on a sample of schools. The remainder of this report is structured as follows:
Section 2 provides details of the first phase of the work – i.e. an evidence review of local, national and international literature. This shows emerging themes, with a particular focus on those pieces of evidence that have greatest relevance to Scotland. These themes influenced the framing of the second phase.
Section 3 covers the second phase – i.e. a deep dive based on a sample of 54 schools across all 32 local authorities in Scotland and engagement with partner organisations. Throughout November, Education Scotland Attainment Advisors gathered evidence from headteachers and focus groups of staff, parents and carers, partners and children and young people. A stakeholder reference group, including local government education leads and professional associations, was convened to support the process.
Section 4 draws together a selection of the key themes and areas of focus that the evidence review and detailed analysis identified as being relevant to educational experiences and attainment. Alongside these themes, the report highlights a selection of the national and local mitigations put in place to date.
Finally, Section 5 provides some concluding observations. It highlights that this suite of evidence will help inform all parts of the education system as work continues as part of the ongoing process to intensify and accelerate support for learning.