Unwavering focus on improvement

2015 PISA results underline case for education reforms - DFM

The Scottish Government will deliver the changes required to make our schools among the world's best, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said today.

Commenting on the 2015 Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) results - which are based on a sample survey carried out almost two years ago, in March 2015, and before the start of the Scottish Government's bold and ambitious reform programme - Mr Swinney said ‎the Scottish Government would maintain an unwavering focus on improvement.

The Deputy First Minister said:

"There is great strength in Scottish education but these results underline the case for radical reform of Scotland’s education system. 

"The results undoubtedly make uncomfortable reading but they contain a plain message: we must continue to make the changes that are necessary to strengthen Scottish education.

"We must recognise that while PISA is only now being published, it dates from the period in which our own statistics on literacy and numeracy were published and prompted our current programme of reform. Both sets of figures tell us the same thing. Reform is essential.

"That is why last year we launched a comprehensive programme of reform, based firmly on the independent findings of the 2015 OECD review of Scottish education.

"It is by carrying through on these reforms – no matter how controversial – that we can make Scottish education world-class again.

"This requires an unwavering focus on improving Scotland’s education system for every child and we will do exactly that.”

Mr Swinney continued: 

"The OECD review set out five very clear areas in which we needed to improve, and we are already taking action in each and every one.

"To focus on raising the standards for all and closing the gap for our poorest pupils, we have launched the £750 million Attainment Programme.

"To put in place a detailed measurement system that tells us what is working – and what is not working – in our schools, we are gathering teacher judgement information on children’s progress, which will be informed by national standardised assessments. Initial data at school and local authority level will be published next week.

"To simplify and clarify the curriculum, we are stripping away thousands of pages of red tape, freeing teachers to teach.

"To put schools and communities at the heart of the education system, we have launched a review of governance, to change the way the system is organised and put parents, teachers and schools in charge.

"And to develop a new strategy to improve leadership in schools, we are bringing in new programmes to train and develop head teachers.

"These recommendations are the foundations of the reform agenda we are now taking forward. This programme is bold, ambitious and, in parts, controversial.

“A strength of Scotland’s education system has always been in collaboration, a sense of national shared endeavour, but we must now be clear: we must deliver the agenda for reform. ‎The case for radical change has been strongly reinforced today."


The full statistical publication, Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015: Highlights from Scotland’s results, is available from: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/Recent

The results show that in reading and maths Scotland is performing at a statistically similar level to England and Northern Ireland, and higher than Wales.

In Science, Scotland is performing lower than England, at a statistically similar level to Northern Ireland, and higher than Wales.


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