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Academic flags up the role of subject choice in closing the attainment gap

Narrowing the Gap
Pupils from poorer backgrounds in Scotland are more likely to miss out on university because of their subject choices at secondary school, researchers have found.

Children from working class families tend to drop more academic subjects, including maths, sciences and languages, earlier and this damages their chances of entering higher education, according to Professor Cristina Iannelli of Edinburgh University.

The disparity is an important but so far widely overlooked part of the attainment gap which Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has pledged to tackle, Prof Iannelli said.

She told SecEd: “There is a great difference between social groups in terms of what subjects pupils decide to take at S3 and S4 and this cannot be put down entirely to attainment. Often individuals may simply not be aware of the importance of studying those subjects that Russell Group universities favour.”

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