National Education Priorities: the distance to milestone nine

Robert Doherty, Kevin Stelfox, Adele Baird, Steve Baron

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The Scottish Executive has published a collection of desired policy destinations with designated indicators of progress which set out its ambitions for social justice. Milestone 9, in Social Justice: a Scotland where everyone matters, aspires to bring the attainment of the poorest-performing 20% closer to the attainment of all pupils in compulsory education. In the context of Scotland’s National Priorities in education, this paper1 focuses on the lowest attaining 20% of pupils in Scotland’s compulsory education sector. The historical and political context of the National Priorities is discussed in conjunction with the challenges of Milestone 9. The main sections of this paper draw on empirical data: to describe more fully Scotland’s young people who fall within the bottom quintile and to widen its conceptual frame to include social, economic and spatial constituents; and, through a small interview study, to illuminate how the high-level policy intention of Milestone 9 is mediated into practice. The final section of the paper addresses the implications of norm-referenced and criterion-referenced ways of constructing the poorest performing quintile and places these in the context of contemporary research into absolute and relative social mobility in Scotland.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)13-28
    Number of pages16
    JournalScottish Educational Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2007

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