Chapter 6: Listening and talking attainment in 2016
- Listening and talking performance was highest at P7 with 67 per cent of pupils performing well, very well or beyond the level, compared to 60 per cent at P4 and 49 per cent at S2.
- Girls outperformed boys in P7. In P4 and S2 there were no significant differences between girls' and boys' performance.
- Pupils from the least deprived areas performed better in listening and talking than pupils from the most deprived areas, at all stages.
6.1 Assessing listening and talking skills
Listening and talking skills are explicitly encompassed within the CfE definition of literacy as important uses of language skills in everyday life. The SSLN was the first large scale national assessment of these skills in Scotland.
Forty per cent of participating schools in Scotland were selected for listening and talking assessments, which took the form of a group discussion. Each group was provided with a task designed to generate discussion that would last around 10 to 15 minutes. The tasks were developed specifically for the SSLN, and each discussion involved three participants  . Figure 2 is an example of a group discussion task for use at both P7 and S2 stages.
Each group discussion was assessed, in real time in schools, by a trained, independent Support Assessor who assessed each sampled pupil against each of the five performance categories described in Table 1.1 (see Section 1.3), using guidance developed by SQA, Education Scotland and teaching professionals. Around 120 Support Assessors completed the ' SSLN Support Assessor Programme (Group Discussion)' which was developed by SQA and was accredited with General Teaching Council for Scotland ( GTCS) Professional Recognition.
Figure 2: Example of Group Discussion Task 'Survival'
6.2 Listening and talking attainment
The highest proportion of pupils performing well, very well or beyond the level in listening and talking was in P7 at 67 per cent, followed by P4 at 60 per cent and S2 at 49 per cent.
Similar proportions of pupils at all three stages were performing beyond the level, at four per cent for P4, five per cent for P7 and three per cent for S2. However, as Chart 6.1 shows, there were substantially more pupils in S2 (15 per cent) who were not yet working within their relevant level compared to P4 and P7 (five per cent and eight per cent respectively).
Chart 6.1: Performance in listening and talking, by stage and reporting category
The experimental statistics publication 'Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Level 2015/16' also presents a measure of listening and talking performance for P4 and P7 pupils. For more information see Background Note 10.9. The results cannot be compared directly to the SSLN due to the differing methodologies and reporting styles, however, we can see a greater proportion of pupils are assessed as achieving the relevant level than have been assessed as performing well, very well or beyond the level in the SSLN group discussion. The Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Levels data indicates P4 pupils perform better than P7 pupils but the opposite is shown in the SSLN.
6.3 Attainment by gender
Chart 6.2 shows the proportion of pupils that performed well, very well or beyond the level by stage and gender. Whilst there appears to be differences in performance by gender, the difference is only statistically significant at P7 (seven percentage points), and not at P4 or S2.
This pattern was different from writing, where girls outperformed boys at all three stages, and in reading, where girls outperformed boys at P7 and S2.
Chart 6.2: Proportion of pupils performing well, very well or beyond the level in listening and talking, by stage and gender
6.4 Attainment by deprivation
In all stages for listening and talking, a higher proportion of pupils from least deprived areas performed well, very well or beyond the level compared to pupils from the most deprived areas (Chart 6.3). This is the same pattern as seen for reading and writing. The performance gap was smallest at S2 at nine percentage points; the difference was 14 percentage points for both P7 and P4.
The link between listening and talking performance and deprivation is slightly different from that of writing and reading in that pupils from the middle category do not outperform the most deprived pupils, except at S2 where pupils from the middle category perform similarly to least deprived pupils.
Chart 6.3: Proportion of pupils performing well, very well or beyond the level in listening and talking, by stage and deprivation category
Email: Marion MacRury
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House