The link between low attainment and social deprivation is underlined this week by new statistics which show that 29 per cent of the most deprived secondary schools failed to meet the expected standard, compared with only 10 per cent of the least deprived.
In primary schools, the figures were 15 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.
Education secretary Michael Russell pointed out that the 29 per cent figure amounted to only six schools in areas of deprivation, and that Education Scotland had undertaken follow-up inspections with all six. In three of them, monitoring and support was ongoing, while in the remaining three, inspectors were satisfied that the required standards were now being met.
Mr Russell has asked Education Scotland to analyse which measures have been most successful in raising attainment in schools in deprived areas so that future support can be improved.
"For too long, the attainment levels of Scotland's children and young people have been determined by social background. I passionately believe that the work of Education Scotland of identifying where more support is needed and swiftly working with partners to put it in place is a crucial part of improving children's life chances," he said.
The statistics, published by Education Scotland, are part of the Scottish government's National Performance Framework (NPF) which provides the first complete baseline figures for pre-school and school quality measures.
Bill Maxwell, chief executive of Education Scotland, said: "Establishing this benchmark is an important step. It means that, in the future, we will be able to compare progress on the proportion of schools and pre-school centres receiving positive inspection reports and comment accurately on whether performance is improving or worsening."
The report also compared the performance of rural and urban schools. In primary, 90 per cent of urban and 92 per cent of rural were evaluated as satisfactory or better; in secondary, 88 per cent of both urban and rural schools were satisfactory or better.
However, 65 per cent of urban secondaries were good and 15 per cent very good, compared to 63 per cent and 25 per cent of rural schools.
Relatively little gap in the performance of smaller and larger schools was detected, with 91 per cent of both categories meeting "positive criteria" in the primary sector: 86 per cent of smaller secondaries were judged at least satisfactory and 89 per cent of larger schools.
Only 4 per cent of local authority-run pre-school centres failed to meet the expected standard, compared to 13 per cent of those in private and voluntary sectors.
When denominational and non-denominational schools were compared, 88 per cent of Catholic primaries were satisfactory or better, compared to 92 per cent of others; in secondary, the respective figures were 91 per cent and 87 per cent.
Summary of quality indicator results from Education Scotland inspections, National Performance Framework baseline summary results
Criteria against which pre-school centres and schools were inspected:
- Improvements in performance
- Learners' experiences
- Meeting learning needs.
Original headline: Where you live still determines school success
Photo: Forest kindergartens are praised for their learning opportunities.