DFM: Education reform 'now imperative'

Action to improve literacy.

Education reform is now imperative, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said following the publication of the final Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN).

Literacy results for 2016 show a broadly stable performance since 2014, although there has been a drop in writing performance for S2 pupils.

The DFM was speaking ahead of a visit to Craigroyston Primary School in Edinburgh which is using new techniques to teach language and vocabulary, and has received £132,000 in Pupil Equity Funding.

Mr Swinney said:

“I want to see standards and attainment improving in Scottish education. A stable performance and drop in S2 writing is simply not good enough.

“There are four key areas where we need improvement. We need to better understand the progress of individual pupils, be clear about the standards expected in our classrooms while stripping out bureaucracy to free teachers to teach, and ensure literacy skills are fully embedded across the curriculum.

“This government is already taking action to provide teachers and schools with the tools – through the literacy benchmarks and standardised assessments - and the resources – through the Scottish Attainment Challenge and Pupil Equity Funding – to improve literacy.

“These reforms are not an overnight solution: it will take time before we see their full effect and we must stay the course. But if anyone looking at these literacy results thinks nothing more needs to change in Scottish education then they are mistaken. Further reform is now imperative.”


The SSLN is an annual sample survey which monitors national performance in literacy and numeracy in alternate years, for school pupils at P4, P7 and S2. Around 10,000 pupils in 2,250 schools took part in the survey in 2016.

Through the National Improvement Framework, the Scottish Government has published data, based on teacher judgement, demonstrating that 84% of young people in Scotland achieve the appropriate Curriculum for Excellence level for writing by the end of S3 (third level or better). Standardised assessment will be in place later this year, to further inform teacher judgement.

Benchmarks for literacy and numeracy were published in August 2016, with benchmarks for all curricular areas published earlier this year. These benchmarks make clear the standards that are expected across the curriculum and apply to all teachers.

The Scottish Government has significantly streamlined the volume of advice and guidance; 85% of the content that had been on the Education Scotland online service for the curriculum and assessment has now been removed.

The Scottish Government is developing targeted interventions for schools through the £750 million Scottish Attainment Challenge programme. The challenge will tackle the poverty related attainment gap by targeting resources at the children, schools and communities most in need, focussing specifically on literacy, along with numeracy and health and wellbeing.  All schools now have access to Attainment Advisors and from April this year £120 million Pupil Equity Funding is being provided directly to head teachers to use for activities and interventions that will lead to improvements in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing in their schools.


Catherine Brown : 0131 244 2560 / 07825 106156


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