Attainment is crucial for future success

All parents have high ambitions for their children and attainment – in its broadest sense – is all about realising them.

Through Curriculum for Excellence we need to drive up attainment for every child and keep closing the gap between the highest and lowest achievers. This is something I believe in passionately as it’s a crucial part of improving children’s life chances.

Educational performance in Scotland is certainly improving but we cannot become complacent. We’re heading in the right direction. We just need to make even greater progress on the journey.

I want the best for Scotland’s children and young people. With this in mind I have been working with a group of head teachers, the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) and Education Scotland to consider how we keep raising attainment and improving life chances. And through sharing experience and expertise, we have developed a range of advice to assist teachers in making a positive difference to raising attainment among Scotland’s pupils from age three to 18. I’ve sent advice to every teacher in Scotland to support them and to start a wider discussion. I hope it will also, at this crucial time, help inform teachers’ personal improvement plans.

Increasing standards through excellent teaching and learning is central to Curriculum for Excellence. Using the new curriculum’s greater flexibility we can improve motivation and rich attainment in our young people and make sure they leave school with the confidence and ability to fulfil their potential. This is hugely important as improved attainment is a young person’s passport to social, cultural and economic prosperity.

The modern world is increasingly competitive. But it is also an exciting place, full of great opportunities. I believe passionately that Scotland should be the best place for a child to grow up and flourish, and education is the key to achieving that. Working together across politics we must make that happen and in so doing deliver improved life chances for all of our children and young people.

Michael Russell
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Life long Learning

Engage section – Raising Attainment.

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  • Assessment and Quali

    Literacy and numeracy skills are critical for learners to progress which is why they are placed at the heart of Curriculum for Excellence and promoted across all areas of learning.

    The Donaldson report, "Teaching Scotland's Future" identified the fact that a small number of initial teacher education students have weaknesses in literacy and numeracy. An ‘Early Phase’ Sub-group of the National Partnership Group is currently considering how best this can be addressed.

    All schools will have strategies in place to ensure that their young people have opportunities to develop their numeracy skills across the curriculum, and teachers will have a common understanding of how their pupils progress in numeracy. Any concerns around teaching provision should be raised with your school who will be able to discuss their strategy.

    In relation to the suggestion that there are no plans for Higher Maths, SQA are developing a full suite of courses in Maths from National through to Advanced Higher levels. Further information on these can be accessed at:

  • BillBrady

    Our teachers still cant count and still cant teach maths. We spend thousands a year on our children as a direct result of crap teachers. Worse still cfe has no plans that i can see for a higher maths, our high school boasts links with the low aspiring fife college and hasnt even started dialogue with universities to plan for my childrens near future plans. I despair at this country!

  • Tom Renwick

    Quality of attainment is important eg too many pupils passing higher maths (one of the gold standard benchmarks) still need to use calculators for basic operations such as 5×6 – then some go onto do a degree in maths – then some go onto become investment bankers – then any lack of quality of numeracy skills becomes a particular problem! Assessment of attainment for Curriculum for Excellence actually needs to be more rigorous than was the case for 5-14, especially at the critical primary stages, though I fear it will actually go the other way. It would be politically difficult to increase quality of measures (ultimately for the benefit of pupils) when that would result a decrease in pupils seen to be 'passing'. The weak spots in numeracy are lack of fluency in addition and subtraction within 20, division (especially with remainders) and hence fractions (and hence percentages). It's not rocket science to get these areas improved and then have a fairly dramatic improvement in overall standards. Mentally fluent = good at numeracy = better at maths.