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Literacy and Numeracy

Literacy across Learning

Literacy is fundamental to all areas of learning as it unlocks access to the wider curriculum. Being literate increases opportunities for the individual in all aspects of life, lays the foundations for lifelong learning and work, and contributes strongly to the development of all four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence.

Final Report from the Standing Literacy Commission on the Scottish Government’s Literacy Action Plan. 

This second and final report from the Standing Literacy Commission - established by the Scottish Government in 2011 to oversee delivery of the SG's Literacy Action Plan (October 2010) - attempts to capture the impact, through the available evidence, of the work undertaken to improve literacy across the different sectors covered by the plan since the Commission's interim report was published in September 2012.  The data and evidence presented is both qualitative, including up-to-date evaluative work on programmes and initiatives such as Bookbug and the inter-authority Literacy Hubs; and quantitative, with data from the early years through to adult literacies.  For the early years there is data from the 27-30 month child health reviews; from school level the data sets include the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN) 2012 survey, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and National Qualifications (NQs); for adults there is data from the annual Skills Profile survey which is used to measure progress with the Adult Literacies in Scotland (ALIS) 2020 strategy.

Taken together, the available data and evidence point to a generally improving picture for literacy levels in Scotland from early years, through schools and colleges to adult learning. In each of these areas literacy enjoys a higher, and increasing, priority than at one time, which can only be good news for Scotland and its people, society and economy.  However, the stand-out issue, where more progress needs to be made, is the gap in attainment between the most and least disadvantaged young people.

The Commission welcomes the central place of literacy in the Scottish Government's renewed focus on raising attainment and tackling educational inequalities.  We make a number of recommendations covering all sectors to make further improvements to literacy levels in Scotland and tackle the enduring impact of poverty and disadvantage on people's literacy skills and life chances.

Literacy Action Plan

The Scottish Government's Literacy Action Plan signals our commitment to a heightened, more targeted focus for improving literacy skills in Scotland through better co-ordination and partnership working focused on clear objectives.

The Plan’s overarching vision is to raise standards of literacy for all from the early years to adulthood.

The action plan builds on existing good practice and ensures that literacy will have a central and continuing focus in education and related Government policies. It provides the strategic direction for improving literacy across the Scottish population.

Standing Literacy Commission

The Standing Literacy Commission (SLC) oversees the delivery of the actions contained within the Literacy Action Plan. It meets three times per year. The first meeting of the Commission took place on 18 May 2011, with the final meeting due to take place on 17 December 2014. The Commission will produce a final report on implementation of the Literacy Action Plan by spring 2015.

Literacy Action Plan Interim Progress Report, September 2012

The Standing Literacy Commission published an interim progress report on the Scottish Government's Literacy Action Plan on 12 September. This reports on key elements of progress with implementation of the plan since its publication in October 2010.  Minutes of the Standing Literacy Commission meetings may be found here.

Local Authority Literacy Hubs

The Scottish Government's Literacy Action Plan highlighted the need for more strategic guidance for local authorities to support their planning and development of their own literacy improvement strategies which meet local priorities. Accordingly, the Scottish Government has been supporting four local authorities literacy ‘hubs’ – led by Edinburgh, Fife, North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire - recognised for sustaining particularly proactive and authority-wide approaches to raising literacy levels. The hubs support sharing of successful approaches and resources across other local authorities in a more systematic manner in order to improve local literacy strategies and outcomes for young people

The Scottish Government commissioned The Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES) to conduct a review of the operation of the Local Authority Literacy Hubs between January and March 2014. The aim of the review was to provide the Raising Attainment Team within Learning Directorate with key information on the outcomes of the Literacy Hub approach and its impact on raising attainment across host and partner local authorities. The findings from this report are feeding into the development of ongoing work to raise attainment and help understand ‘what works’ and spread good practice across Scotland. The findings will also help inform future support arrangements for both the literacy and numeracy hubs.

Numeracy Across Learning

Numeracy is a key area of Curriculum for Excellence. It provides learners with essential analytic, problem-solving and decision-making skills involving number which are a prerequisite for learning in other areas of the curriculum - particularly in the STEM subjects, which are of key importance for our future economic prosperity.

Consequently, curriculum national guidance makes it explicit that every teacher/practitioner should look for opportunities to develop young people's numeracy skills across all areas and at all levels of learning.

The Scottish Government and its partners are also committed to monitoring the progress we are making in both literacy and numeracy in a robust, systematic and transparent manner through the annual Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN), which assesses performance in primary and early secondary education in literacy and numeracy in alternate years.

Numeracy Hubs A national event to promote the importance of numeracy within Curriculum for Excellence held in June 2013 led to the development of a number of inter-authority numeracy ‘hubs’ around the country. Currently six hubs are sharing successful numeracy approaches across groups of local authorities in order to enhance local numeracy strategies and improve outcomes for learners. The SG is committed to expanding numeracy hubs to enable more authorities and school to benefit from this approach – see SG news release 30 April 2014 for more detail.

The keynote address from Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science & Scotland’s Languages, from the June 2013 event is at - Opening Address

More information about numeracy

Numeracy Experiences and Outcomes within Curriculum for Excellence.

Education Scotland have published on-line learning and teaching materials on numeracy based on areas highlighted in the SSLN survey results.

In May 2011, The Scottish Government, SQA and Learning and Teaching Scotland published a Fact File on Numeracy across Learning for parents, employers and other key stakeholders – Fact File