A rise in the number of pupils leaving school in Scotland with no qualifications has been branded a “national disgrace”.
Research by Professor Jim Scott, from Dundee University’s school of education and social work, found the number of children leaving school with no qualifications has increased in two-thirds of Scottish local authority areas since the Curriculum for Excellence was introduced.
Across Scotland, the percentage of children leaving without a single qualification went from 1.5% in 2012/13 to 2.3% in 2017/18.
In Dundee, the percentage of pupils leaving without qualifications rose from 1.1% to 3% in 2017/18. It peaked a year earlier when 4.5% of pupils left without passing an exam.
In Angus the figure rose from 0.9 to 2.4% last year while in Fife it rose from 2.2% to 2.8%.
The number of children leaving without qualifications in Perth and Kinross rose from 0.9% to 1.7%.
Prof Scott’s response to a Scottish Parliament inquiry in subject choices in schools states: “It is obviously a matter of concern that levels of ‘zero attainment’ have risen and that this has reached over 3% in almost a quarter of local authorities.”
He concludes: “There is also some limited evidence within this paper to suggest that equity may, at least in some contexts, have worsened rather than improved.”
Lochee Labour councillor Michael Marra said: “The surging numbers of children across Scotland being failed by the SNP’s education policies is a national disgrace.
“There are now four times as many pupils leaving school with no qualifications in Dundee as there was before the SNP began dismantling our education system.”
Dundee City Council education convener Stewart Hunter said: “Blaming the SNP for a change in the education system introduced by the then Labour-led Scottish Executive 15 years ago is bizarre, especially as it was a flagship policy of the then Labour First Minister Jack McConnell.
“Earlier this year we brought our plan to raise attainment to Committee. On the night we spoke at length about the work our schools are doing to target young people who leave school without qualifications to ensure that they do leave with some qualifications. We are already seeing some success due to this work.
“While our attainment, exam results and positive destinations have seen some significant improvement in the last 10 years under an SNP administration we accept that we still have some work to do.”
A spokesperson for Dundee City Council said: “Last session and continuing into this, we have reviewed the Senior Phase curriculum which includes introducing more vocational pathways, as well as options to choose Foundation Apprenticeships into S5 and S6.
“This provides more appropriate pathways available for all learners, and helps them to stay on beyond S4.
“We also have options to have some of a pupil’s curriculum delivered part time at Dundee and Angus College, again allowing young people to stay on at school by spending some time in school and some in college.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said:“The gap between the most and least deprived communities for young people entering work, training or further study is half what it was in 2009-10, while a record number of students from the most disadvantaged areas gained a place at university last year.”