Bridging the achievement gap
An educational policy centre that will focus on breaking the link between low educational achievement and poverty is to be launched at the University of Glasgow.
The Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change will be formally unveiled by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell MSP, who will also deliver a keynote address at the University of Glasgow on Tuesday 5 November 2013.
The Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change, though rooted in Scotland, will work with academics and policy makers from around the world to research and develop policies that will improve the life chances of young people from whatever social or economic background they come from.
Research from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development identified concerns relating to the achievement gap in Scotland, suggesting that the gap opens up in primary education, widens through secondary education and leads to inequitable participation in higher education. This challenge is not simply an urban issue but one that crosses a range of communities and regions and is as significant in rural areas as in cities.
Professor Christopher Chapman, the Director of the new centre said, “The launch of the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change is a significant milestone not just in terms of Scotland, but it should be seen as a major step forward in international thinking and best practice. Now, more than ever, is a critical time for education policy. We need to develop new, collaborative ways of working within and between schools that will allow us to share and develop ideas and best practice. But this cannot be done in isolation. Schools must be linked to a whole range of other agencies, and the Robert Owen Centre will encourage dialogue and a rethinking of roles, relationships and responsibilities within the system. It is no longer acceptable to allow divisions between the classroom, townhall, university office or and other body that perpetuates the problems of the past.”
He added: “The Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change will contribute greatly to the new ideas that are needed to make this vision a reality in Scottish education”.
In his keynote speech at the University of Glasgow, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell MSP will say:
“In this landmark year for Robert Owen – a year when we are celebrating the bi-centenary of his A New View of Society – I am pleased that we will have a centre, here at the University of Glasgow, devoted to our understanding of how to improve the life chances of our young people ,which are fundamental issues Owen was wholly committed to. This continuing recognition of his importance comes in a year during which I have already launched the Robert Owen Award to recognise inspirational educators which this year went to Dr Avis Glaze.
As we seek to address the attainment gap in Scotland’s education system, this new centre will become a major asset not just to this university but to Scotland. Owen’s legacy will surely be alive in this hub as it looks globally to draw in the best thinking, the best practice and the best people working in educational change.”
Professor Christopher Chapman concluded by saying “Put simply, the Centre’s programme of research is designed to strengthen the relationship between research, policy and practice and ultimately impact on the life chances of those moving through the education system”.
 Scottish Executive Education Department (2007), OECD Review of the Quality and Equity of Education Outcomes in Scotland: Diagnostic Report
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First published: 5 November 2013