Summary of the main issues for the 2019 NIF
We have been listening carefully to all those involved in the Scottish education system, to ensure that we are working in partnership with them when developing the improvement activity set out in this year's NIF and Improvement Plan.
The latest Achievement of a CfE Level data shows that between 70%-80% of children across P1, P4 and P7 are achieving the expected level in numeracy, reading, writing and listening and talking.
The number of Higher passes fell slightly in 2016/17 (-1.5%), but to a lesser extent than the S5 and S6 school roll (-2.4%), and there were over 50,000 skills-based qualifications, awards and certificates achieved in 2017-18.
The proportion of young people in the most deprived areas getting qualifications at SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6 is increasing faster than those in the least deprived areas, and an increasing proportion of school leavers in the most deprived areas were in a positive follow‑ up destination in March 2018.
An empowered and collaborative system
During 2019 local authorities and learning communities will work together to further develop a culture of empowerment and collaboration in their area.
We are bringing together representatives from all parts of the education system in Scotland to take a partnership approach to empowerment. Together we are developing new guidance and resources to support the empowerment of learning communities across Scotland. We are providing around £5 million directly to the six new Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs) in this school year, to help strengthen educational support to schools.
Aspiring headteachers will be supported to develop their leadership potential by the local authority, and through national development programmes such as Into Headship. There will be new opportunities for middle leaders to develop leadership skills through new Education Scotland leadership programmes.
Excellence and equity
The interim evaluation of the £750m Attainment Scotland Fund showed that 78% of headteachers had already seen an improvement in attainment and wellbeing as a result of the funding, and nearly all headteachers (97%) expected to see further improvements in the coming five years. The interim evaluation also suggests that the equity agenda has become embedded in schools' practice and ethos.
The themes of excellence and equity are also intrinsic to the report of the 15-24 Learner Journey Review which was published in May 2018. The report contains 17 recommendations to support this, building on and reinforcing the aims of CfE and DYW.
Health and wellbeing
As part of our commitments on improving children and young people's mental health set out in the mental health strategy 2017-2027, we have undertaken a review of personal and social education. Work to deliver against a suite of recommendations will commence in 2019.
We will recruit an additional 250 school nurses by 2022, and will also introduce counsellors in all secondary schools across Scotland. We will provide training and support for those working in schools and education authorities to understand and respond effectively to children and young people's needs for support with their mental health and wellbeing.
We will implement a range of recommendations to support LGBTI-inclusive education across Scotland, including recommendations to improve practice and guidance for education staff and to increase awareness of LGBTI issues.
We plan to introduce a brand new Health and Wellbeing Census, covering children from late primary through to secondary schools, starting in the 2019/20 academic year.
Early learning and childcare (ELC)
To help achieve greater equity in child outcomes, we will ensure that the children who need it the most benefit from an enhanced ELC offer. This will involve an earlier offer for eligible 2‑year-old children and, from August 2018, access to support from an additional graduate-level practitioner for children attending nurseries serving the most disadvantaged areas.
Funded ELC will expand from 600 to 1140 hours to all children from August 2020.
We have also developed a national standard for funded ELC providers, at the centre of which is a clear set of quality criteria that all settings delivering the funded hours will be required to meet from August 2020.
Email: Elaine Kelley