An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland.
Official statistics have been released today on school pupils’ Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Levels (ACEL) in the reading, writing, listening & talking and numeracy ‘organisers’.
The statistics, based on teacher judgement, report on the percentage of school pupils in Primary 1 (P1), Primary 4 (P4), Primary 7 (P7) and Secondary 3 (S3) who have achieved the expected CfE Levels relevant to their stage. The data were not collected in 2019/20 due to the closure of schools resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020/21, data were collected for Primary school (P1, P4 and P7) pupils only.
In 2021/22, the percentage of primary pupils achieving the expected CfE Levels increased across all organisers and stages (P1, P4, P7) compared to 2020/21. However, compared to 2018/19 they have decreased across almost all organisers and stages. For example:
- Around seven in ten (71 per cent) primary school pupils (P1, P4 and P7 combined) achieved the expected CfE Level for literacy in 2021/22. This compares to 67 per cent in 2020/21 and to 72 per cent in 2018/19.
- In numeracy, over three-quarters (78 per cent) of primary school pupils (P1, P4 and P7 combined) achieved the expected CfE Levels in 2021/22. This compares to 75 per cent in 2020/21 and to 79 per cent in 2018/19.
Data for S3 pupils were not collected in 2020/21 due to pressures on secondary schools associated with the cancellation of exams. The percentage of S3 pupils achieving Third Level or better in 2021/22 was lower than in 2018/19 across all organisers. For example:
- 86 per cent of S3 pupils achieved the expected CfE Level for literacy in 2021/22. This compares to 88 per cent in 2018/19.
- In numeracy, almost nine in ten (89 per cent) S3 pupils achieved the expected CfE level in 2021/22. This compares to 90 per cent in 2018/19.
The statistics also show that the gap between the proportion of primary pupils (P1, P4 and P7 combined) from the most and least deprived areas who achieved the expected level narrowed in 2021/22, compared to 2020/21 in both literacy and numeracy. However, for both literacy and numeracy, the gap remained wider than in 2018/19.
In 2021/22, the gap between the proportion of S3 pupils from the most and least deprived areas who achieved Third Level or better increased in both literacy and numeracy compared to 2018/19, and was the largest since 2016/17. This is not unexpected as the 2021/22 ACEL data for S3 pupils was the first data collected post-pandemic, whereas previous S3 results were reported before the COVID-19 outbreak.
The figures released today were produced in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics.
Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Levels 2021/22 contains achievement data based on all pupils in publicly funded Primary 1, Primary 4, Primary 7 and Secondary 3 classes, and for all pupils based in special schools/units.
Typically the publication covers pupils in P1, P4, P7, S3 and special schools. However, data for S3 and special school pupils were not collected in 2020/21 due to other pressures on these schools including implementation of the SQA Alternative Certification Model, which was used to award National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers in 2021.
The Scottish Government did not collect Achievement of CfE Levels data for any pupils in 2019/20. Schools were closed in Scotland between March 2020 and the end of the academic year as a result of the pandemic meaning that they were closed on the planned ACEL census date of 8th June 2020. It was concluded that it would not be possible to collect consistent data that was fit for purpose and that any attempt to do so would add considerably to other pressures on school and education authority staff. The decision was therefore taken to suspend the data collection.
After the cancellation of the 2019/20 data collection, the 2021/22 statistics provide a first indication of a gradual recovery from the impact the COVID-19 pandemic on pupils’ learning and their results. However, it is likely that 2021/22 results may still be affected by the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
Scotland’s Chief Statistician is also publishing school level data on Achievement of CfE Levels. All school level results will be presented in ten per cent bandings (i.e., under 10%, 10% – under 20% etc.). To prevent potential disclosure of information relating to individual pupils within schools, any schools in which the relevant cohort contains 20 or fewer pupils will be suppressed.
Further information on school statistics can be found on the Scottish Government website.
The figures released today were produced by professionally independent statistical staff in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
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