The 2007 OECD Report on Quality and Equity in Scottish Education recorded that the effect of low socio-economic status is more marked in Scotland than in most other member countries.
The challenge to reduce the negative impact of background is one which exercises the minds of many in Scottish Education today.
And so it was with great interest that I noted a fact quoted recently from the 2002 OECD report Reading for Change (Performance and engagement across countries. Results from PISA 2000)
Analysis of data showed that students whose parents have the lowest occupational status but who are highly engaged in reading obtain higher average reading scores in PISA than students whose parents have high or medium occupational status but who report to be poorly engaged in reading.
Therefore, the researchers conclude that working to engage students in reading may be one of the most effective ways to break cycles of educational and social disadvantage.
There was also evidence that reading newspapers, magazines and comics could be just as effective as reading books.
Parents who discussed books, articles, politics and current affairs with their children also helped boost their literacy skills.
The report advised all countries to seek means to raise the level of interest in reading among students, especially boys, since the results suggest that improving students’ reading proficiency could have a strong impact on their opportunities in later life.