The full impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the education young people in the city won’t be known for some time says leading Dundee councillor.
With schools being shut to most pupils since March and exams being cancelled for the first time in history, young people have experienced a huge upheaval in their academic lives.
And as pupils across Dundee prepare to receive their exam results tomorrow, the council’s education spokesman Stewart Hunter claims that the full impact of the disruption won’t be realised for many months to come.
He said: “It’s been an unprecedented period of time so we are still working out what that means for young people.
“We won’t get a better idea what we need to do until we get young people back in schools and work with them and I would ask that pupils and parents to allow us time to work our way through it. Then we can start making our plans as to how we support young people.
“We want to try and limit the damage that has been done because of pupils being out of school for so long but we won’t be able to ascertain that for a while yet.”
Earlier this year Dundee City Council vowed to improve children’s attainment at school after statistics revealed the city was one of the worst-performing areas in Scotland.
Data published by the Scottish Government and collated by The Times shows only 28% of pupils in Dundee managed to achieve five highers in 2018/19, compared to the Scottish average of 36%.
It was also revealed that six of the city’s eight state secondary schools are in the bottom half of the entire country for higher performance.
However due to the pandemic, this year’s results will be based on estimates by teachers. This, Cllr Hunter argues, means that it will be impossible to judge what improvements have been made in closing the attainment gap in the city.
He explained: “Every year when we get the exam results out we will look at how we have done and compare it to previous years.
“But I don’t think we will be able to do that this year with any certainty and I say that without knowing what the results will look like.
“Irrespective if they show it has been a better or worst year than before, you can’t look at it and make any clear correlation.”
With this in mind, Cllr Hunter says the city council is committed to trying to ensure that the fallout from the Covid pandemic on education is kept to a minimum.
He said: “It’ll be difficult to establish what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong. Kids have been out of school for a whole term and we have no idea what the impact of that will be on young people.
“The key thing is to make sure the opportunities for young people are not being denied because of this.
“We’ll have a better idea when they go back and we’ll do a lot of work with them. So we will need that time to see where we are and from there we can make our plans as to how we respond to the impact.”