Key Priority: Improvement in attainment, particularly in literacy and numeracy
This chapter focuses on the available evidence in relation to the National Improvement Framework Priority 'Improvement in attainment, particularly in literacy and numeracy'.
It shows the main evidence on childhood development in the early years, and achievement throughout the Broad General Education (primary and secondary) including how Scotland compares internationally, and finally at the Senior Phase.
In line with our approach to the implementation of CfE, high-level assessment guidance for the Broad General Education was developed nationally and implemented locally, based on the principles of personalisation and a learner-centred culture. There has been no national requirement to undertake set assessment tasks throughout the Broad General Education, or to produce assessment data in specific formats. Assessment during the Senior Phase of CfE is primarily based on SQA qualifications, alongside other benchmarked qualifications and wider achievement awards.
Our approach to assessing achievement across the Broad General Education is evolving. In order to gain a better understanding of children and young people's achievement in literacy and numeracy across the Broad General Education, a new 'Achievement of CfE Levels' return has been introduced in the school year 2015/16, and information was collected from all local authority and grant-aided schools in Scotland.
This new return has collected information on the CfE Level for which teachers have professionally judged their children and young people in Primary 1, Primary 4, Primary 7, and Secondary 3 have achieved in relation to their Reading, Writing, Listening and Talking, and Numeracy as at June 2016.
Children's experiences and development during the first years of their lives often have a large effect on their learning throughout their lives.
The latest published Child Health 27-30 Month Review Statistics showed that the coverage of the review was 87% in 2014/15,
72% of all reviews actively recorded that there were no concerns about any aspects of the child development
A new or previously known concern was noted for at least one aspect of the child's development in 19% of reviews.
Speech, language and communication was the developmental domain where most concerns were identified. 11% of children reviewed had a newly identified concern about their speech, language and communication and an additional 3% had a known concern in this domain prior to their review.
The Growing Up in Scotland report ' Language Development and Enjoyment of Reading: Impacts of Early Parent-Child Activities in Two Growing Up in Scotland cohorts' showed that:
- Children who were aged 3 in 2013 had slightly better vocabulary than children aged 3 in 2007/08. This difference remained even when controlling for known differences between the cohorts such as parental level of education.
Broad General Education
Achievement in literacy and numeracy
The new annual Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence ( CfE) Levels return collects data from all publicly funded schools, and gathers information for all pupils in Primary 1, Primary 4, Primary 7 and Secondary. This return measures national performance in aspects of literacy (i.e. reading, writing, and listening and talking) and numeracy, and reports on the proportion of pupils who have achieved the expected CfE level, based on teacher professional judgments, relevant to their stage.
The 2015/16 data shows that the percentage of P1, P4 and P7 pupils who are achieving the expected CfE Level relevant for their stage are:
The Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy ( SSLN) is a nationally representative sample survey of pupils in P4, P7 and S2, which assesses pupils' performance in numeracy and literacy in alternate years against the standards set by CfE. Below are the main findings from the latest surveys. The full reports and more information on the survey methodology are available on the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy website. The results of the 2015 SSLN (numeracy) survey were published on 31 May 2016. The latest SSLN (literacy) survey was conducted in May 2016, and the findings will be published in May 2017.
The SSLN samples around 12,000 pupils each year. The 2015 (numeracy) and 2014 (literacy) surveys showed that the majority of P4 and P7 pupils were doing well in both areas. However, they also showed that results generally declined between 2011-2015 (numeracy) and 2012-2014 (literacy). According to the latest data, the percentage of P4 and P7 pupils who performed well, very well or beyond their level (the 'beyond' category only exists for writing and listening and talking) were:
SecondaryAchievement in Literacy and Numeracy
The 2015/16 data shows that the percentage of S3 pupils who are achieving CfE 3rd Level or better, and those achieving CfE 4th Level are:
The 2015 SSLN (numeracy) and 2014 SSLN (literacy) surveys showed that the majority of S2 pupils are doing well, with the exception in numeracy. However, they also showed that results generally declined between 2011-2015 (numeracy) and 2012-2014 (literacy). According to the latest data, the percentage of pupils who performed well, very well or beyond their level (the 'beyond' category only exists for writing and listening and talking) are:
Qualifications form an important part of the picture of how well young people do when they leave school. In addition to formal qualifications, many young people achieve vocational and other awards, gaining skills relevant to a wide range of employment opportunities. Another key part of the picture is whether young people enter positive destinations after leaving school, such as attending college or university, entering employment, securing activity agreements or undertaking voluntary work.
Information on qualifications and sustained school leaver destinations are published annually in June. Below are the main findings from the 2016 publication. The full publication and more information on this data collection can be found in the Summary Statistics for Attainment, Leaver Destinations and Healthy Living publication.
Under CfE, schools and partners are able to offer a greater personalisation and choice in the Senior Phase (S4 to S6) in a range of ways. For example by designing the Senior Phase as a three-year experience rather than planning each year separately, or by delivering national qualifications over a variable timeframe in response to young people's needs and prior achievements. It is therefore important that we look at the attainment of young people at the point of exit from school (leavers), not at some specific point during their school career (e.g. in S5) or in specific qualification types (e.g. Highers).
The percentage of school leavers gaining one or more qualifications at Level 6 or above increased from 58.1% for 2013/14 to 60.2% for 2014/2015 leavers.
Literacy and numeracy are essential skills for any school leaver. Pupils can achieve literacy or numeracy at a certain level by passing the relevant Scottish Qualifications Authority ( SQA) literacy or numeracy units at National 3, 4 and 5. These units are included within a range of courses at these levels. The percentages of leavers attaining Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework ( SCQF) Levels 3 to 5 in literacy and numeracy for 2014/15 are shown below. More information on these figures can be found in the 2016 Summary Statistics for Attainment, Leaver Destinations and Healthy Living publication. More information on the SCQF Levels can be found on the SCQF website.
Around 96.5% of leavers attained literacy at SCQF Level 3 or above in 2014/15. Likewise, 96.3% achieved this in numeracy. At SCQF Levels 4 and 5 or better, a higher proportion of pupils attained literacy skills than numeracy skills.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (
is an assessment of
15-year-olds' skills carried out under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development ( OECD). Each survey includes questions on three domains - reading, mathematics and science. The latest published data is from 2015. More information can be found in the PISA Highlights from Scotland's Results report.
Scotland's performance in 2015 compared to the OECD average was as follows:
Maths performance was similar to the OECD average
Reading performance was similar to the OECD average
Science performance was similar to the OECD average
Between 2012 and 2015 there was a statistically significant
decrease in Scotland's performance for science and reading, both in
absolute terms and compared to the
OECD average. Performance in maths was similar to 2012.
In 2015 Scotland's performance was similar to England in maths
and reading, and
below England in science. Scotland was similar to Northern Ireland and above Wales
for all three domains.