Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) levels: 2022/23

Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) levels: 2022/23 provides information on national performance in literacy and numeracy, 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.

This document is part of a collection

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland

These statistics are official statistics. Official statistics are statistics that are produced by crown bodies, those acting on behalf of crown bodies, or those specified in statutory orders, as defined in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

Scottish Government statistics are regulated by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR). OSR sets the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics that all producers of official statistics should adhere to.

At the request of the Scottish Government, OSR have recently concluded an assessment of these statistics against the Code of Practice for Statistics. The assessment report is published on their website. OSR have identified four actions for Scottish Government to fulfil in order for the statistics to become accredited official statistics (formerly called National Statistics) These are outlined in full within the assessment report but in summary are as follows:

  • Providing more detail on the quality assurance processes that are undertaken at each stage of data collection and processing.
  • Identifying and proactively engaging with users outside of the education sector, to raise awareness and increase the credibility of the statistics, and to publicly seek the input of users on potential developments.
  • Exploring and, where possible, producing new analysis to provide additional insights into the data and maximise the value of the School Information Dashboards.
  • Promoting the reuse of the statistics, for example, making them available through a secure platform allowing for data linkage and external research.

Once it is demonstrated that these steps have been undertaken, OSR will recommend that the UK Statistics Authority confirm the accredited official statistics status. The Scottish Government will aim to take these actions in time for the release of 2023/24 data in December 2024. In response to the first action some new material on the quality assurance processes associated with these statistics has been included in Chapter 10.

1.2 Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Levels Data

This publication provides information on the proportion of school pupils who have achieved the expected Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Levels in literacy and numeracy relevant to their stage.

Achievement of CfE level data are based on teachers’ professional judgements of individual pupil performance (see Section 9.1 for more information). This report refers to the school year 2022/23; the data reflect what pupils had achieved by the end of the school year – i.e. June 2023.

Figures are based on pupils in publicly funded mainstream schools in the 32 local authorities and one grant aided school. Pupils’ stages are based on approximate age ranges. Data are collected for pupils in the stages:

  • P1 (≈5-6 yr olds)
  • P4 (≈8-9 yr olds)
  • P7 (≈11-12 yr olds)
  • S3 (≈14-15 yr olds)

From these, a combined primary figure (P1, P4 and P7) has also been calculated.

The national and local authority data within this report cover pupils within mainstream schools, including those in special units integrated within mainstream schools. Pupils attending standalone special schools or standalone special units are excluded from the national and local authority data and are reported on separately in Chapter 6.

A small number of pupils (in both mainstream and special schools) for whom the teacher has been unable to make a professional judgement are not included.

Data are collected on pupil performance in four areas, known as organisers:

  • Reading (English and Gàidhlig)
  • Writing (English and Gàidhlig)
  • Listening and Talking (English and Gàidhlig)
  • Numeracy

The achievement of ‘literacy’ is also included in the publication (for English and for Gàidhlig). A pupil is reported to have achieved the expected level in Literacy if they have achieved the expected level in all three of the literacy organisers: reading, writing, and listening and talking. For more information on how this has been calculated, see Section 9.4.

This publication mainly focuses on the organisers based in the English language and Numeracy. For pupils based in Gaelic medium schools/classes, the English language organisers are collected at relevant stages and are included in the national and local authority data. Information on achievement of CfE levels in Gàidhlig can be found in Chapter 5. For more information about Gaelic medium education, see Section 9.5.

1.3 Curriculum for Excellence Levels

Curriculum for Excellence is designed to provide a coherent, flexible and enriched curriculum for children and young people aged from 3 to 18. The curriculum includes the totality of experiences which are planned for children and young people through their education, wherever they are being educated.

Curriculum for Excellence defines five levels of learning. The first four levels in the Broad General Education (BGE) phase are described in Experiences and Outcomes – a set of statements about children’s learning and progression in each curriculum area which are used to help plan learning and to assess progress. Progression to qualifications is described under a fifth level, the Senior Phase.

The path most children and young people are expected to follow through the levels reflects the stages of maturation of children and young people and the changing ways in which they engage with learning as they develop.

Some children and young people will start learning at these levels earlier and others later, depending upon individual needs and aptitudes. The framework is, however, designed to be flexible in order to permit careful planning for those with additional support needs, including those who, for example, have a learning difficulty or those who are particularly high attaining. The diagram below shows the five curriculum levels.

Board General Education
Diagram showing the five curriculum levels: Early Level (age 3 to P1), First Level (P2 to P4), Second Level (P5 to P7), Third/Fourth Level (S1 to S3) and Senior Phase (S4 to S6).

This publication focuses on the BGE phase which covers children from pre-school through to the end of S3. It is intended that all children should have opportunities to experience all of the Experiences and Outcomes up to and including the Third Level where appropriate for individual learning needs. Most learners will progress into the Fourth Level in many aspects of their learning before the end of S3. For S3 pupils this publication reports on both Third Level or better and Fourth Level although focuses more on Third Level or better.

Scottish Government statistics on the attainment of young people in the senior phase are based on point of leaving; these statistics can be found in the School education statistics.

1.4 Pupils with complex needs

The majority of school pupils in Scotland follow CfE. For a very small percentage of pupils it is unlikely that they will progress through the CfE levels during their time in education. This is due to pupils having long-term significant and complex additional support needs. The way in which these young people are recorded in this publication can vary depending on whether they are integrated into mainstream schools or attend a standalone special school and also on the nature of their needs. Further information can be found in Section 9.3.

1.5 Pupils for whom the teacher was unable to make a judgement

Children for whom the teacher has been unable to make a professional judgement are not included in the calculations of the proportions of pupils achieving the expected CfE Levels. This may happen if, for example, a pupil has recently moved to the school, and the teacher feels there has not been sufficient time to form a professional judgement of a pupil’s performance. This is the case for less than one per cent of pupils within the Achievement of CfE Levels data.

1.6 Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Impact on 2019/20 and 2020/21 data collections

The Scottish Government did not collect Achievement of CfE Levels data for any pupils in 2019/20 as schools were closed on the planned ACEL census date of 8th June 2020.

For 2020/21, data were collected for Primary school (P1, P4 and P7) pupils only. Secondary school and special school data were not collected due to other pressures on these schools including implementation of the SQA National Qualifications Alternative Certification Model.

Impact on children’s learning

The closures of schools between March 2020 and January 2021 because of the pandemic are likely to have had a negative effect on some pupils’ progress and attainment. It is therefore likely to have had an impact on the CfE levels some children achieved in 2020/21. The impact of this disruption will also have affected young people covered by the 2021/22 publication and it is possible that the impact of the pandemic will continue to affect the CfE levels some children and young people achieved in 2022/23.



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