Education - Achieving Excellence and Equity: national improvement framework and improvement plan 2022

Sets out the vision and priorities for Scottish education that have been agreed across the system, and the national improvement activity that needs to be undertaken to help deliver those key priorities.

Improvement Plan

What the evidence is telling us and the action we will take

The key drivers of improvement will continue to provide a focus and structure for gathering evidence to identify where further improvements can be made, for ensuring we have the evidence sources to contribute to our priorities, and to minimise unintended consequences. They all remain equally important and the links and connections across these key areas are essential to enable continuous improvement.

The following sections set out the new improvement and recovery activity which is being undertaken under each of these drivers, and a case study to provide an example of what is working well.

A summary of ongoing and completed activity from last year’s improvement plan is set out at Annex A.

School and ELC leadership

What is this?

The quality and impact of leadership within schools and ELC settings – at all levels and roles.

Why is this important?

Leadership is recognised as a key driver of the success of any school or ELC setting. Leaders at all levels who are empowered and collaborative, and who empower others to take ownership of their own learning and teaching in a collaborative way, have a strong track record of ensuring the highest quality of learning and teaching.

What is the evidence telling us?

HM Inspectors of Education (HMIE) carry out independent scrutiny across sectors ranging from early learning and childcare to adult learning. While inspections have been paused during COVID-19, HMIE carried out a national overview of practice, supported with case studies and examples of effective practice to support system wide improvement.

The national overview of practice found that headteachers received support from local authority officers to assist their decision-making during the pandemic. This resulted in prompt implementation of relevant guidance to support children's and young people’s learning experiences. The national guidance and local authority advice helped support school leaders in their discussions with staff.

Local authorities managed the pace of change during the pandemic by implementing clear structures for management, communication and leadership. These structures support senior leaders to provide quality experiences for children and young people.

Senior leaders continue to prioritise appropriate learning experiences aligned closely with the needs of learners and the school’s context. They continue to work with staff to identify relevant resources to ensure appropriate challenge for all learners. These decisions are drawing on their knowledge of family circumstances to target resources effectively. In the special sector, there are headteachers who report being empowered by local authorities to make decisions and implement approaches to best meet the needs of learners with complex needs.

The Excellence in Headship (EIH) programme has continued to develop interactive facilitated approaches to online delivery over the course of 2021, with feedback suggesting that this has made the professional learning more accessible for headteachers from across the whole of Scotland and for those with caring responsibilities in particular. Since January, 180 new headteachers have joined the Excellence in Headship programme and have shared the impact on them both personally and professionally during a difficult year as a school leader.

Evidence from the 2021 survey of headteachers of schools in receipt of support from the Attainment Scotland Fund (ASF) shows that a great majority of headteachers felt they understood the challenges and barriers faced by pupils affected by poverty; 96%, including 72% who felt they understood this ‘to a great extent’. However, survey results show some variation across key respondent groups; in particular, Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) only schools, primary schools, those in rural areas, and those with lower PEF allocations were less likely to feel that they understood these challenges.

The majority of headteachers had seen an increase in collaborative working in their school up to March 2021 as a result of ASF support. Nearly 2 in 3 (62%) indicated this, including around a third (36%) who had seen a large increase in collaborative working as a result of the fund. This was broadly consistent with 2020 survey findings, although the proportion reporting increased collaboration has fallen from a peak in 2017.

Survey findings show some variation in school experiences around collaborative working. In particular, those with lower PEF allocations, those in rural areas and primary schools were less likely to have seen an increase in collaborative working.

The ASL Review heard evidence from practitioners which found that they require key organisational conditions to fulfil their professional ambitions to support all children and young people to learn to the best of their ability. The ASL Review summarised these Key conditions for delivery as:

  • Values driven leadership
  • An open and robust culture of communication, support and challenge - underpinned by trust, respect and positive relationships
  • Resource alignment, including time for communication and planning processes
  • Methodology for delivery of knowledge learning and practice development, which incorporates time for coaching, mentoring, reflection and embedding into practice.

New improvement actions for the year ahead.

Actions in response to the ICEA report

Throughout 2022, Education Scotland will continue to offer bespoke professional learning and leadership opportunities for Scotland's school and system leaders to explore system issues such as curriculum design. This will include design, delivery and evaluation of our offer, or working with partners to do this.

Education Scotland will deliver professional learning to support learning, teaching and assessment, and moderation, to practitioners nationally and regionally, and across local authorities during the academic session 2021-22.

The Scottish Government will work with partners from across the ELC sector to develop a new Childcare Workforce Strategy, which will explore key issues and challenges on workforce, including professional learning and leadership support for all those working across ELC and the wider childcare sector.

Education Scotland will develop an online professional learning community and support increased collaboration and the sharing of effective practice between Equity and Excellence Leads working in the early learning and childcare sector during the academic session 2021-22.

Through continued delivery of the ASL Action Plan, the Scottish Government and their partners will work collaboratively to build on existing work and seek both nationally and locally, opportunities to develop and promote additional professional learning and leadership.

School and ELC leadership - case study

Lyndsay McRoberts, headteacher Duncanrig secondary school, South Lanarkshire

Over the past few years, I have been involved with Education Scotland’s Excellence in Headship programme and more recently the Excellence in Headship (EIH) Stretch collaborative enquiry programme. Both provided opportunities to engage with high quality professional learning related to my role as headteacher.

Being involved in the EIH Stretch programme this year has allowed me to engage with professionals working across the wider education system including Lead Specialists from the Professional Learning and Leadership team at Education Scotland and academic staff to not only develop my own thinking around system leadership but to attempt to influence the thinking of others and the direction of policy in Scotland.

The Professional Learning and Leadership team guided us through models of collaborative enquiry to develop our knowledge and understanding of the process. A key focus of our collaborative enquiry has been the future of assessment and qualifications in Scotland. I worked with a group of six headteachers from six different local authorities in Scotland. Through the programme we have been able to engage with researchers, headteachers in other countries and national agencies to explore current practice and thinking and also to challenge this from a school leader’s perspective. We have now been given the opportunity to share not only the findings of our research but also to share our recommendations based on this in the hope of influencing future change.

The past 18 months has forced many school leaders into an increasingly operational role as they cope with the demands of the pandemic. It has been important to try and retain a strategic, outward focus during this time and plan to build on the many positive changes that have taken place as a result of new ways of working. The involvement in the programme has been a significant support, enabling me to spend time with colleagues from across the country, sharing our experiences of leading during a pandemic but also to challenge our thinking and maintain an empowered focus in what had been a very challenging time in school leadership.

Teacher and practitioner professionalism

What is this?

Teacher and practitioner professionalism demonstrates the overall quality of the teaching workforce in Scotland and the impact of their professional learning on children and young people’s progress and achievement.

Why is this important

The quality of teaching is a key factor in improving children and young people’s learning and the outcomes they achieve. Access to high quality early learning and childcare can make a huge difference to children’s lives, particularly when they are growing up in more disadvantaged circumstances. Evidence shows that universally accessible and high quality ELC helps to provide children with skills and confidence to carry into school education, and is a cornerstone for closing the poverty related attainment gap between children from the most and least deprived communities. The single most important driver of high quality in a child’s ELC experience is a dedicated, highly skilled and well-qualified workforce.

What is the evidence telling us?

The HMIE national overview found that schools engage well in collaboration across the system, including partnership working. Collegiate quality assurance processes feature in most local authorities. Teachers within and across establishments work together in order to help improve the delivery and quality of children’s and young people’s remote learning experiences.

Professional learning provided by local authorities is supporting schools. Local authority staff and senior leaders plan programmes based on context and need. These set standards to support quality assurance. However, developing approaches to quality assure remote learning remains a key challenge. In all local authorities, planned professional learning is supporting staff to enhance their digital skills. This is a necessity given the need for remote learning during the period of school closures. Practitioners demonstrate greater knowledge and capability over a wider range of digital platforms, which is increasing children’s and young people’s engagement in learning.

Across the secondary sector, local authority staff support teachers to develop knowledge, understanding and application of the National Qualifications Standards for Assessment. Led by teachers, subject network groups have an increased role in developing and deepening teachers’ shared understanding of standards. Local authority officers and Regional Improvement Collaboratives provide relevant support.

The data from the pilot programme, Dyslexia Scotland the GTC Scotland Professional Recognition Programme for Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice in 2021/2, including feedback and evaluations from the 10 successful teachers, demonstrated the programme's value to their increased confidence, knowledge and understanding of dyslexia and inclusive practice in supporting their own practice and career progression, learners, colleagues and the wider school community.

Both the ASL Review, and The Promise 2020 produced a vast range of evidence in the form of 'lived experience' that suggests a refocus is required to prioritise and protect positive relationships across educational settings. The recommendations from both these reports have resulted in a number of actions for Education Scotland, Scottish Government and local authorities. The range of inter-linked measures in the ASL Action Plan seek to enhance professional learning and development, to support practitioners’ confidence, knowledge and understanding of additional support needs and inclusive practice.

Evidence shared from the Diversity in the Teaching Profession and data from the Scottish Government's Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme (REREAP) board has identified racial literacy and confidence as a key area of development for the teaching and education workforce.

The 2021 edition of Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland shows that, over the year to 2021, teacher numbers increased by 885 to 54,285. Pupil numbers have not increased at the same rate therefore the pupil teacher ratio has decreased to 13.2. Additional teachers have been recruited since 2019 to support the recovery of education following the disruption caused by COVID-19. These additional teachers are likely to be a major contributing factor to the increase in teacher numbers and the reduction in overall pupil teacher ratio.

The FTE of teachers, graduate staff and staff working towards graduate level qualifications in funded ELC was 5,387, an increase of 372 since 2020.

New improvement actions for the year ahead.

In developing a new Childcare Workforce Strategy for 2022-26 with ELC partners, the Scottish Government will explore professional training, continued development and support across the sector.

Education Scotland will deliver three professional learning sessions to support childminders delivering the early learning and childcare funded entitlement by October 2022

The Scottish Government will continue to work with key partners to deliver the ASL Action Plan to enhance professional learning and development for additional support for learning. The Scottish Government will also work with partners to ensure that there is appropriate career progression and pathways for teachers looking to specialise in additional support for learning.

Actions in response to the ICEA report

By December 2022, Education Scotland will build on its existing professional learning and leadership suite of programmes supporting empowerment and agency including designing, delivering and evaluating professional learning or working with partners to do this. This will support capacity building across the system locally, regionally, and nationally with a particular focus on the key areas of education reform and curriculum.

Education Scotland will work with practitioners to update the Early Level Play Pedagogy Toolkit, extending and strengthening support for early level practitioners by July 2022.

Actions from the OECD implementation framework, and in response to the ICEA report

The Scottish Government’s OECD implementation framework sets out a range of actions to strengthen engagement with teachers, strengthen school empowerment, and to support wider commitments made by the Scottish Government

Scottish Government will work with the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) to agree how the commitment to reduce class contact time for teachers by 90 minutes per week will be delivered.

Scottish Government will work with local government to deliver the Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party's shared policy programme commitment to recruit 3,500 additional teachers and 500 classroom assistants over this parliamentary term.

Actions in response to the Audit Scotland report and the ICEA report

Following a successful pilot in 2018- 2020, Education Scotland in collaboration with Dyslexia Scotland will, by November 2022, develop, present and evaluate the GTCS Professional Recognition Programme for Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice in 2021/22.

Aligning with national policy, legislation and demand, the Pupil Support Staff Professional Learning Framework aims to support staff to make an even greater contribution to the learning, wellbeing and future opportunities of children and young people. Education Scotland will lead on the continued development of and dissemination of the Pupil Support Staff Professional Learning Framework in 2022.

Education Scotland leads on the national Harmful Sexual Behaviours subgroup and will set up a national safeguarding in education network to determine professional learning requirements. Education Scotland will then plan, deliver and evaluate professional learning to support education staff in recognising and responding to safeguarding concerns by November 2022.

Education staff require further support on forming a culture and ethos that prioritises relationships and they need upskilling and professional learning to understand, recognise and respond to dysregulated and distressed behaviour through a relationship-based, nurturing and trauma sensitive lens. Education Scotland will lead on developing publishable guidance and the online professional learning resource on Promoting Positive Relationships and Behaviour and Restorative Approaches in collaboration with SAGRABIS and local authorities by June 2022. Education Scotland will introduce the professional learning resource through engagement events in partnership with colleagues from SG/SAGRABIS for local authorities to further explore the resources themselves

By July 2022, Education Scotland will co-create with partners a prototype of a Building Racial Literacy professional learning offer, reporting into the Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme board. The protoype will be evaluated by Education Scotland in terms of process, content and initial impact of anti-racist practice and understanding.

Education Scotland will set up a National Response to Improving Literacy group to sit alongside the National Response to Improving Mathematics Partnership Board. Both groups will examine the existing landscape in Scotland and internationally and seek out the best opportunities to enhance the professional learning for teachers and the classroom experiences for young people.

In the light of the ACEL data, both groups will develop evidence based recommendations in spring 2022, with a view to implementing changes as soon as possible.

Teacher and practitioner professionalism - case study

Anonymous account from a participant in the Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE)’s Leadership and Mentoring Programme.

I started my professional journey of progression with the Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE) Leadership and Mentoring programme. As soon as I completed the SAMEE programme I decided I want to do more. I felt this new spark. After the programme I participated in a University-led leadership course and an Education Scotland programme.

I think the biggest barrier for me was confidence. I had worked in an establishment for many years and I wasn't getting anywhere. Since I have participated in SAMEE’s Leadership and Mentoring programme my confidence has grown and is growing in terms of pursuing learning opportunities. The SAMEE community, the network, the group of peers, mentors and coaches; it built my confidence that was my starting point. The change it brought about in my behaviours and mind-set was that I recognised the value of professional support networks. You could share a challenging issue with SAMEE peers and mentors with the purpose of finding solutions. The support was there, we helped each other through peer to peer mentoring, we were actually mentoring each other even though we didn’t realise it. The support from SAMEE with applications, preparing for interviews and presentations helped. SAMEE could see that I wanted to do more, and SAMEE introduced me to Education Scotland and Glasgow City Council, presented opportunities to participate in influential spaces. I was an isolated teacher, now I've branched out into all these different things within a year and a half.

The unequal impact of CV19 on the BAME community has caused a lot of worry and concern for BAME teachers, learners, parents and carers. It impacts on self-esteem. Through the SAMEE Leadership and Mentoring programme I have a greater acknowledgment of the multiple aspects of my professional self. Being bilingual, I've recognised the valuable skill set that I have, that I've always had, but not realised previously and the ability to communicate with empathy and responsiveness when engaging with BAME learners, parents and carers. I have become more secure. I've accepted who I am, I am a hijabi, I'm a leader and I'm going to be a role model for young people like my daughter, who want to be teachers. I have a group of young women who have recently progressed into the teaching profession that I support. I maintain a close connection with them. I don't want them to go through what I have gone through. The challenges I am supporting them with involve discrimination.

Parent/carer involvement and engagement

What is this?

This covers parental and family engagement in the learning of children and young people, as well as parental involvement in the life and work of school. Parental engagement focuses on ways in which parents, carers and families can best be supported to develop the skills and confidence to engage in, and encourage, their children’s learning in school and in everyday life. Schools and partners can play a vital role in supporting families to do this effectively and with confidence.

Why is this important?

Research shows that when parents and carers engage in their children’s learning, and when children and young people live in a supportive home learning environment, it improves their attainment and achievement. Where high quality personalised communication between schools and ELC settings and parents/carers takes place, relationships are strengthened. This supports parents and carers to engage more with their child’s learning

What is the evidence telling us?

The Scottish Government commissioned questions in the Ipsos Mori omnibus survey of parents and carers that was undertaken in November 2021. This was a representative sample of 905 parents/carers.

The questions included:

  • How well did the remote learning provided by your child’s school during school building closures in 2020 and 2021 meet their needs?
  • How concerned or not are you about the impact of school building closures on your child’s school work / mental health & wellbeing / physical health?
  • What aspects of remote learning, if any, do you think worked well for your child?
  • What, if anything, would have improved remote learning for your child?

60% of parents/carers stated that remote learning provided by their child’s school during school building closures met their child’s needs either ‘very well’ (20%) or ‘quite well’ (40%). 33% of parents/carers stated that remote learning met their child’s needs ‘not very well’ (23%) or ‘not at all well’ (10%). 6% of respondents said this question did not apply, and it is likely that their child(ren) was/were in school buildings in this period.

60% of parents/carers were either ‘very concerned’ (23%) or ‘fairly concerned’ (37%) about the impact of school building closures on their child’s school work, while 50% were either ‘very concerned’ (18%) or ‘fairly concerned’ (32%) about the impact on their child’s mental health and wellbeing. 27% of parents/carers were ‘very concerned’ (8%) or ‘fairly concerned’ about the impact on their child’s physical health.

Parents and carers were asked an open text question about the aspects of remote learning that they felt worked well for their child. The most common responses were:

  • Online learning (such as MS Teams, Zoom, Google classrooms) (151 mentions);
  • Teachers being supportive and accessible (127 mentions);
  • Working at own pace/less pressure (85 mentions);
  • Course content / variety of work (76 mentions); and
  • Development of tech skills / use of technology / equipment provided (62 mentions).

Parents and carers were asked an open text question about what would have improved remote learning for their child. The most common responses were:

  • More interaction / communication (207 mentions);
  • More live lessons (110 mentions);
  • More structure / clear learning plan / better organisation / deadlines (68 mentions);
  • More content / challenging / better variety of work (65 mentions); and
  • Having better technology / better wifi at home (44 mentions).

Education Scotland worked with a range of national bodies to develop an approach to engaging with parents, carers and learners during remote learning. Between 19 and 25 January 2021, Education Scotland met remotely with parents, carers, and learners through a series of focus groups to hear their views on the approaches taken to delivering remote learning. Three focus groups were held in partnership with the National Parent Forum of Scotland and Connect Scotland. A further three focus groups were held in partnership with Children in Scotland and Young Scot. In addition, and with the support of schools, 22 focus groups took place with children and young people across a selection of local authorities.

Between 20 and 25 January 2021, Education Scotland ran two national surveys, one for parents and carers and another for learners. The national surveys were developed with support from a range of partners and focused on the following three aspects of remote learning:

  • Communication and wellbeing
  • Resources and equipment
  • Learning and teaching

These results are not representative of all parents or learners across Scotland.

61.1% of secondary and 63.6% of primary parent respondents agreed that they knew whom to contact to access wellbeing support for their family. 60.2% of secondary, and 52.1% of primary parent respondents agreed that there was appropriate support available for their child’s wellbeing during remote learning.

78.4% of secondary and 82% of primary parent respondents agreed that they had the appropriate resources and equipment, including technology, to enable their child to access remote learning.

65.6% of secondary and 57.9% of primary parent respondents were satisfied that the level of challenge in learning activities was right for their child.

46.3% of secondary and 38.8% of primary parent respondents were satisfied that appropriate adjustments had been made to support their child’s individual learning needs.

Where high quality personalised communication between schools and parents takes place, relationships are strengthened. This supports parents to engage more with their child’s learning. Although parents value information provided about their child’s learning, they would welcome increased communication. In particular, parents want clarification and information related to National Qualifications.

Schools do their utmost to ensure families have access to hands on, practical resources that allow children and young people to learn at home. Local authorities also provide support to parents and learners in using digital platforms. However, there remains a challenge with some families still experiencing barriers to accessing digital provision.

Survey results indicate the majority of parents are confident that they can access support to help their child’s or young person’s wellbeing. Within the survey, a range of views emerged on the impact of remote teaching on the wellbeing and ease of learning for some children and young people. Particular concerns highlight the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of learners.

Feedback from parents is being used well to inform developments and improve the delivery of remote learning. Parents acknowledged the improving quality of remote learning over time.

Evidence heard by the ASL Review reaffirmed the importance of effective working relationships between parents, carers and schools and reinforced the need to include parents and carers, alongside children and young people as key partners in the development and delivery of policy, both locally and nationally.

Over 600 ELC practitioners have completed the ‘Supporting Parents to Further Engage in the Child’s Development’ continuous professional learning (CPL) course.

New improvement actions for the year ahead.

The Scottish Government will continue to collaborate with partners, including parents and carers to deliver the actions from the ASL Action Plan to enhance parental empowerment and engagement. We will continue to ensure that the key role of parents, as partners in their children’s learning, is realised. We will identify additional avenues for engagement to develop and deliver ways of working together that support and promote positive relationships, communication and co-operation.

Actions in response to the ICEA report

By December 2022, Education Scotland and Scottish Government will work with the Initial Teacher Education Knowledge Exchange Group which includes representatives from Universities across Scotland to share knowledge and expertise in order to improve how parental involvement / engagement, family learning and learning at home are reflected in relevant courses and Career Long Professional Learning (CLPL) opportunities.

Education Scotland will publish parent information on ‘Realising the Ambition: Being Me, National Practice Guidance for the Early Years’ to support parental engagement in children’s learning from birth to the end of the early level by October 2022.

Actions in response to the ICEA report and the Audit Scotland report

By 31 December 2022, Education Scotland will work across and within local authorities, Regional Improvement Teams and Collaboratives to share advice and guidance on ways to engage with families to support COVID-19 recovery.

By 31 December 2022, Education Scotland will create a briefing on how the national occupational standards (NOS) have been used since 2013 and will work with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) on updating the NOS for future use.

The “Learning Together” action plan on parental engagement will come to a close at the end of 2021. In early 2022, the Scottish Government will work in partnership with parent organisations national education agencies to review that plan, and to publish a refreshed policy framework on parent and carer involvement and engagement.

Parent and carer involvement and engagement - case study

To support children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lochies School has developed an effective framework that takes account of the unique context and the needs of families and learners with complex additional support needs. The ’Lochies Remote Learning Relay’, places the needs of children and relationships between the school and families at the centre of its design. This is allowing staff and the community to work more effectively together leading to the delivery of bespoke learning, teaching and support for families and learners. As a result, learners are engaging well and families have been able to maintain positive and trusting relationships with the school.

The headteacher, with the support of staff and partners, has established a range of effective communication routes. By providing key points of contact, families are quickly able to seek any support or assistance required. Staff regularly ask families what they need and use this information to inform their offers, making any necessary changes to increase their effectiveness. Through actively seeking views and working frequently with families, the school is effectively able to track family wellbeing and engagement, ensuring that all families are included in the way that suits their needs best. As a result, there has been increased participation and engagement of parents and carers from across the school.

The school has high expectations for children and their ability to participate in learning. Based on strong systems to ensure effective two-way communication, the school understands well the challenges faced by learners and their families. To support and reduce barriers to learning, the school provides a wide range of family learning opportunities such as whole school assemblies, online family learning events, and live and recorded sessions. Training and access to a range of specialist equipment to meet the needs of learners was also developed. This collaborative family working fosters supportive relationships and allows parents and carers to more fully engage and support their child’s individualised learning. As a result of this work, families have reported having an improved and clearer understanding of their child’s abilities and next steps, and how these link into functional gains for their child in their wider world. This is leading to increased engagement and participation. Families are working more effectively with the school and partners in joint goal setting for individual education plans and coordinated support plans, leading to improved outcomes for children.

In taking the work on parental engagement forward, staff have reflected on their successes and made a number of significant changes to their practice. Staffing structures within the school have been realigned to include dedicated family engagement staff who will continue to provide the improved contact, which families have become accustomed to since the start of the pandemic.

Teachers have reflected on the curriculum rationale and are beginning to adapt it to reflect family learning more effective and the importance of partnership working to improve outcomes for children.

The headteacher is using pupil equity funding (PEF) to provide support in key areas identified by families. This is reducing potential gaps in access to wider learning and achievement opportunities, such as out of school and holiday learning events. PEF is now more focused on clearer identification of key groups with a focus on family learning offers and support in order to track success and inform improved outcomes for children and families.

Curriculum and assessment

What is this?

This includes a range of evidence on what children and young people learn and achieve throughout their education and how well this prepares them for life beyond school, for example Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence levels, skills, qualifications and other awards. It also includes curricular improvement to reflect the key links between curriculum and assessment and so this driver includes many of the actions in response to the OECD recommendations.

Why is this important?

We need to ensure the curriculum remains coherent, appropriate and effective. We also need to know the size of the attainment gap at different ages and stages, across Scotland, in order to take the right action to close it.

What is the evidence telling us?

The OECD’s 2021 review of CfE recommended that Scotland should:

  • Balance CfE so students can fully benefit from a coherent learning experience from 3 to 18 years.
  • Combine effective collaboration with clear roles and responsibilities
  • Consolidate institutional policy processes for effective change
  • Combine effective collaboration with clear roles and responsibilities

The HMIE national overview found that supporting children’s and young people’s wellbeing remains an explicit key priority in schools. Across all sectors, staff know learners well and demonstrate a clear understanding of the needs of children, young people and their families.. There is a continued focus on areas such as supporting mental wellbeing and emotional resilience.

A strong feature of practice is the prompt support and advice which was offered by staff during the period of remote learning to learners and families through regular check-ins and communication. Schools continue to develop their use of the wellbeing indicators to support learners to reflect on their own wellbeing.

Most schools report that stronger partnership working is helping to provide additional support to individuals. However, across all sectors, there were challenges in meeting the needs of all learners in a remote learning context, particularly those learners with complex needs. Schools would benefit from targeted support and resources to help children and young people engage, and cope with the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing.

Teachers applied a range of assessment approaches, including self and peer assessment, to measure children’s and young people’s progress and identify areas for improvement. Children and young people demonstrated their learning in a variety of ways to allow teachers to assess their progress and understanding. Within the secondary sector, the assessment of young people’s practical skills proved challenging during remote learning. Staff took creative approaches to reduce barriers to assessment, however difficulties remained in practical subjects.

Recognising and celebrating wider achievement continues to be encouraged, with examples of schools involving parents in tracking children's progress across their achievements. However, schools and local authorities identified the assessment of children’s and young people’s progress during remote learning as an area that requires further guidance and support.

The ASL Review made recommendations that the successes and achievements of children and young people with additional support needs should be further recognised, celebrated, and promoted. The development of a national measurement framework will allow the diverse range of achievements of children and young people with additional support needs to be captured and celebrated, within a context of learning for life.

In almost all schools, arrangements are in place to support moderation within departments and across schools. Officers in most local authorities support moderation activities in literacy and numeracy. However, gathering robust and rigorous evidence of learning was challenging in the context of remote learning.

Learners are developing a clearer understanding of their career management skills (CMS) and are able to identify a range of pathways and options. However, there is a need to achieve greater consistency across secondary schools on the application of the Career Education Standard (CES) and development of CMS in subject areas and wider school activities.

Skills Development Scotland provide professional learning for schools, local authorities and community organisations. Most schools are making good use of these opportunities to embed the CES and build the capacity of teaching staff. The delivery of career education within the curriculum and CES entitlements is not yet consistent across all schools.

Lockdown Lowdown 3 – a survey of what young people in Scotland think as lockdown begins to ease found that, for secondary education, more young people disagreed than agreed that they felt prepared for assessments, with 44% selecting strongly disagree or disagree, with only around a fifth (22%) selected strongly agree or agree. And on whether they felt confident that the teacher assessment of grades would be delivered fairly this academic year, more respondents agreed than disagreed, with 38% selecting strongly agree or agree. Around a fifth (22%) of young people selected strongly disagree or disagree.

When asked if there was anything that they would like changed about their educational arrangements, most respondents described difficulties with the assessment programme that had been put in place. Other key themes included a preference for learning in school as much as possible and difficulties learning in their home environment.

New improvement actions for the year ahead.

In response to the ASL Review, significant progress has been made to develop a new national measurement framework. This seeks to capture the wider set of data which will be used to measure and support improvement. It is anticipated that the framework will be published by spring 2022. The framework will allow us to capture and celebrate outcomes and achievements of all children and young people nationally through the development of an annual report. This report will be co-created with children and young people and their families and will align with other initiatives around exam results time to provide further opportunities to celebrate and promote the successes and achievements of children and young people in equivalence to exams and attainment.

Scottish Government and Education Scotland will work with a range of education agencies, children and young people organisations, and wider stakeholders to review the curriculum framework in relation to children’s rights and in relation to race equality and anti-racism, reporting to the Curriculum and Assessment Board and Scottish Ministers in 2022.

Scottish Government will continue to support improvement activity across the CfE subject areas. This will include joint work with local authorities to develop a model for a long-term sustainable instrumental music tuition service as well as the work to implement the recommendations from the Logan Review of Scotland’s Tech Ecosystem.

Actions from the OECD implementation framework

Professor Ken Muir, University of West of Scotland, has been appointed to act as an independent advisor to the Scottish Government. Professor Muir will consider and advise on the implementation of the reform that will consider all functions currently delivered by both SQA and Education Scotland.

The Scottish Government will convene and facilitate dialogue to re-visit and assess the 2019 refreshed narrative for Scotland's curriculum. This will be informed by user feedback, Professor Muir's consultation, and learning from the pandemic.

Scottish Government will co-create a new communications strategy for Curriculum for Excellence with teachers, practitioners, children and young people, and parents/carers.

Professor Muir's work will clarify roles and responsibilities in relation to the functions of Education Scotland and SQA, and their relationship to the education system as a whole. The findings will be available in early 2022.

The Scottish Government has confidence in the current approach to assessment and qualifications, but to ensure that it remains effective and fair as society changes we are undertaking a process of reform. This will involve agreeing a consensus for the purposes and principles of assessment, and then considering how these may be used to design a reformed process.

A short-life sub-group of the Curriculum and Assessment Board will be established to explore options for a sample-survey based approach to assessing progress across the four CfE capacities, and better support for teacher professional judgement and provide recommendations. The outcome of this work will be reflected in next year’s NIF.

Work will also be undertaken to review the current role of measures and indicators associated with Curriculum for Excellence, and revised measures of progress and proposals for supporting teacher professional judgement and system evaluation will be included in the National Improvement Framework from December 2022 onwards.

Take in to account the forthcoming Regional Improvement Collaboratives' review and consider their current activities around enhancing curricular design capability.

Actions from the OECD implementation framework, and in response to the ICEA report

Scottish Government will develop a review cycle for the curriculum (including the four capacities and the eight curricular areas) as recommended by the OECD review. These reviews will take account of the OECD commentary on areas such as the role of knowledge and skills.

Actions in response to the ICEA report

2022 will mark ten years since Scotland first introduced the cross curricular concept of Learning for Sustainability (LfS). The COP 26 Summit has challenged all education systems to improve the way that they support climate education and education for sustainability. In 2022, the Scottish Government will work with key partners to publish a strengthened action plan on LfS. This work will take account of the COP 26 summit, the Climate Assembly recommendations and the activism of pupil campaigners across Scotland.

Actions in rhesponse to the ICEA report, and the Audit Scotland report

Education Scotland will lead and package the publication of a range of resources and professional learning opportunities to support the mental wellbeing of staff and children and young people. This will support practitioners to understand the links and synergies across them all, communicating these to regions, local authorities and schools, and providing bespoke support where required by November 2022.

Education Scotland will provide ongoing support during the academic session 2021/22 for the quality assurance of educational content for national standardised assessments and continue to contribute to the development of reporting and training advice (including GME by the GME Team).

Scottish Government will work towards the implementation of the actions within the Promise 21-24 Action Plan.

Specific actions during 2022:

  • Scottish Government will consider, with key partners including SAGRABIS (Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools) how we can further support schools use of relational approaches, ensuring that exclusion from school is a measure of last resort for all pupils, but particularly those who are care experienced.
  • Scottish Government will consider the further actions required, with key partners, to implement the Promise within schools in Scotland.

Scottish Government will continue to promote and support NHS Education for Scotland’s (NES) National Trauma Training Programme (NTTP); developing a trauma informed workforce and services, including ELC, through the prevention of adverse childhood experiences and trauma across the life-course, and trauma-informed responses. We will also promote further training resources and examples of effective practice hosted on Education Scotland’s National Improvement webpage.

Scottish Government is working with Education Scotland to develop two new professional learning courses: ‘Developing an understanding of curriculum rational’ and ‘Tracking and monitoring of children’s learning to ensure continuity and progression, including during key transition stages’

Curriculum and assessment - case study

Staff at Townhill Primary School work collaboratively to plan, deliver and moderate learning, teaching and assessment. During the period of remote learning, staff collaborated virtually as much as possible across classes, stages and levels. Teachers used a digital platform to track pupil engagement and maintained regular contact with children and families through technology, phone calls and garden visits. This helped to identify children who were struggling with their learning in order to provide appropriate support as required. Staff maintained a key focus on literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing when children were learning remotely. Regular contact with families meant staff were aware that children had very different experiences over lockdown. Teachers planned carefully to provide an appropriate balance between emotional support and furthering learning as children returned to classrooms. Once back in school, staff used a range of assessment approaches to celebrate children’s learning and progress across the curriculum and to identify any gaps in learning.

Townhill Primary School’s collaborative approach to planning offers supportive professional dialogue and ensures a shared understanding and expectations in terms of progress. Senior leaders participate in planning sessions and have tracking meetings with staff where the focus is on the progress of each child, as well as groups and cohorts. This enables senior leaders to gather a breadth of information on progress and attainment and to identify children who may need targeted intervention. Tracking meetings provide an overview of the pace of learner progress and ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of areas of focus and children who require additional support or challenge.

The school’s assessment approaches are well-established, with regular periodic assessment as well as ongoing, formative assessment across the curriculum. This informs teacher and pupil next steps. Staff also make use of information from a range of standardised assessments. When all of this information is considered alongside teachers’ knowledge of each child, it provides a holistic picture of learner progress. This has enabled staff to identify a gap in writing from nursery to P7 as a result of the pandemic, so this session staff aim to raise attainment in writing. This will be achieved by focusing on quality teaching, learning and assessment and regular moderation. Staff have revisited their agreed five part lesson model, to make it more child friendly and encourage a consistent approach across the whole school. Curriculum development sessions focus on professional reading, sharing good practice and developing approaches to improve literacy teaching and quality literacy learning walls. The goal is to close the writing attainment gap through incremental target setting, targeted support and high quality teaching.

Collaborative working and approaches to moderation ensure that teacher judgement is robust, providing an accurate reflection of each child’s progress, attainment and achievement. Individual children are supported well to make progress from where they are in their learning. Tracking of achievement ensures equity for all and provides children with a variety of opportunities to develop the skills to succeed. Staff continue to discuss stretch aims to ensure they remain aspirational for the children of Townhill Primary School.

School and ELC improvement

What is this?

The overall quality of education provided by each school and ELC setting in Scotland and its effectiveness in driving further improvement.

Why is this important?

School and ELC improvement focuses on the quality of education, including learning, teaching and assessment, as well as the quality of the partnerships that are in place to support children and young people with their broader needs. These are the essential elements to raise attainment for all children and young people, and close the poverty related attainment gap.

What is the evidence telling us?

Due to COVID-19, HMIE paused inspections of school and ELC settings for 2019/2020 on 13 March 2020. However, the Care Inspectorate continued to inspect ELC settings against Key Question 5 (‘operating an ELC service during COVID-19’) between April 2020 and June 2021, returning to full thematic quality inspections in June 2021. The results will be published in January 2022.

Cases of exclusion have fallen from high of 44,794 (63.9 cases per 1,000 pupils) in 2006/07 to 8,323 (11.9 cases per 1,000 pupils) in 2020/21. There was a particularly notable decrease in exclusion between 2018/19 and 2020/21, with cases falling by 44%.

Attendance in the 2020/21 school year was impacted substantially by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ‘attendance – schools open’ rate, which excludes periods of COVID-19 related school closures, was 92.0%. This is a decrease from 93.0% in 2018/19 and the lowest rate since comparable figures began in 2003/04.

There was an increase in the number of funded registrations for early learning and childcare (ELC) from 90,126 in 2020 to 91,603 in 2021. An estimated 13% of two year olds were registered for funded ELC, an increase from 9% in 2020.

Evidence from the 2021 survey of headteachers of schools in receipt of support from the Attainment Scotland Fund (ASF)[1] shows that a majority of headteachers were positive about their skills in measuring the impact of their approaches; 81% were positive about their ability to identify appropriate measures, and 79% were positive about their use of evidence to measure impact. Again, these results are similar to the 2020 survey, although they remain lower than the 2019 survey.

More than three quarters (79%) felt that they are ‘very good’ or ‘good’ at measuring the progress and impact of ASF-supported approaches, similar to the 2020 survey. It is also notable that PEF-only schools, those with lower PEF allocations and those in rural areas were less positive than others on this indicator.

A large majority (87%) of schools reported seeing an improvement in closing the poverty related gap in attainment and/or health and wellbeing as a result of ASF supported approaches. This included 17% that had seen ‘a lot’ of improvement to date. These findings were broadly consistent across key respondent groups.

A larger number of schools (94%) expected to see improvement in closing the gap over the next few years, a 6-point increase since the 2020 survey (although this followed a 10-point reduction between 2019 and 2020). Survey responses also indicated some correlation between schools having already seen improvement, and expectations of further improvement; 78% of those who had seen ‘a lot’ of improvement to date expected to see ‘a lot’ more, compared with 28% of those who had only seen ‘a little’ improvement to date.

The great majority of schools (95%) felt that COVID-19 and school building closures had had at least some impact on their progress in closing the poverty-related attainment gap, very similar to 2020 survey findings. This included 54% who felt that COVID-19 and school building closures had a ‘significant impact’ on their progress.

In order to address the issues of race inequality in schools and develop a systemic anti-racist approach, Scottish Government in partnership with Education Scotland and Equality Unit colleagues have recently established a race equality and anti-racism in education programme to tackle a number of areas which contribute to the barriers which perpetuate race inequality in education. The Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme (REAREP) was established in February 2021 after 3 months of official and Ministerial consultation with race and education stakeholders. The aim of engaging with stakeholders in this way was to enable Ministers and officials to:

  • gain a clearer understanding of the barriers which perpetuate race inequality and racism in schools and the impact they have on learners and staff;
  • begin to develop, with stakeholders, new and innovative ways in which these barriers can be addressed, in order to deliver improved outcomes for children, young people and practitioners.

As a result of the programme of stakeholder engagement and subsequent distillation of the discussions which took place during that period, four key themes emerged, which stakeholders agreed were interlinked and of fundamental importance in order to tackle race inequality in schools:

  • School leadership and Professional Learning
  • Diversity in the Teaching Profession and Education Workforce
  • Curriculum Reform
  • Racism and racist incidents in Schools

Given the intrinsically linked nature of these themes, Scottish Government and Education Scotland agreed that a new programme providing oversight and coherence to race equality in Scotland’s schools and education system was required. This gave birth to the Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme (REAREP) which consists of a small internal Programme Board, a larger external Stakeholder Network Group and 4 small sub groups which are currently developing actions and associated outputs and outcomes, as well as identifying sector ownership. Any new actions coming out of the programme will be included in next year’s NIF.

You can find out more about the work of the REAREP here:

New improvement actions for the year ahead.

Scottish Government will commence work to expand funded early learning and childcare for children aged 1 and 2, starting with low-income households within this Parliament. In the coming year we will start engagement with families, the early learning sector and academics to design how the new offer will work.

Scottish Government will design a wraparound childcare system providing care before and after school, all year round, where the least well-off families will pay nothing. The design will be driven by the needs of families, build on existing provision and will, where possible, be integrated with the design of an offer of free breakfasts and food provision.

Scottish Government will begin the early phasing-in of community level systems of school age childcare (in 2022-23), targeted to support the six priority groups in the Tackling Child Poverty Plan. This early phasing will build on learning from our Access to Childcare Fund projects and input from our People Panel to help us test and understand how we can build a system of school age childcare to support a community. They will also consider and develop the role that organised children’s activities can play in a school age childcare system alongside the regulated childcare sector to support families, provide choice and improve access to these activities for children from low income households. We will ensure that these systems meet the childcare needs of families before and after school.

Scottish Government will build on Get Into Summer 2021 to deliver a summer 2022 offer for children and families in low income households which provides coordinated access to food, childcare and activities during the holidays. By summer 2023 we will build on this work to make holiday childcare provision available for all children from low income families.

Actions in response to the ICEA report

We are committed to ensuring every school-aged child has access to an appropriate device to support their learning by the end of this Parliament. During 2022/23 we will undertake preparatory work across the system to prepare the school estate, and the people in it, for a deeper investment in technology form 2023/24 onwards.

Actions in response to the ICEA report, and the Audit Scotland report

By April 2022, Education Scotland has planned discursive sessions for practitioners who have some knowledge of UNCRC to discuss and collaborate on next steps. Collaboration is ongoing with colleagues who have taken part in the 'Train the Trainers' sessions, and are delivering professional learning across the regions. Learner Participation sessions are planned to support the implementation of the UNCRC, and ensure that there are opportunities for children and young people to be actively involved in decisions that affect them.

Education Scotland will provide up to date advice and guidance to local authorities and Regional Improvement Collaboratives in relation to high quality learning, teaching and assessment through appropriate fora during the academic session 2021-22.

By summer 2022, Education Scotland and ADES will complete ‘collaborative improvement’ reviews with a further 6-8 local authorities. This will result in reports to local education committees, clear action plans, monitoring and ongoing support.

Actions from the OECD improvement framework, and in response to the Audit Scotland and ICEA reports

Scottish Government will engage in collaborative work with children and young people organisations to understand the various ways that learners currently engage with national decision-making, and to co-design a new format and approach for all future engagement.

Actions in response to the Audit Scotland report

The Scottish Government and Education Scotland will work with all 32 local authorities included in the Scottish Attainment Challenge to:

  • support system-wide delivery of the refreshed mission for the Scottish Attainment Challenge, whilst recognising the specific contribution of education to reduce the impact of poverty.
  • ensure a system-wide focus on improving outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty, in light of the cross-cutting impact poverty has and the need to collaborate across services to improve outcomes for children and young people.
  • ensure that governance and reporting arrangements, including stretch aims agreed and measured both nationally and locally, enable the system to recognise, respond to and tell the story of progress being made, locally and nationally, to improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty.
  • demonstrate that people are as important as processes: our joint work on governance and reporting should clarify the respective roles of key actors in the system, including Scottish Government, Education Scotland and local authorities.
  • In 2022 we will publish a clear framework to support recovery and accelerate progress.

Education Scotland will engage directly with authorities who have experienced the biggest falls in attainment, to support them in planning interventions with the greatest opportunity for success.

Education Scotland will work with partners to design and deliver universal, intensive and targeted improvement support to the early learning and childcare sector at regional, local and setting level during academic session 2021-22.

School and ELC improvement - case study

Shortlees Primary School, East Ayrshire

The school is committed to supporting children through the pandemic. A culture of outdoor learning provides a platform for the school to plan future changes and inform their improvement journey.

Staff work closely with the local authority’s outdoor learning provider to design engaging and motivating learning programmes for children and their families. This work is linked to the school’s health and wellbeing framework, with a specific focus on emotional wellbeing. Staff enhance children’s skills and confidence through live and remote coaching sessions, which take place outdoors. Staff share their own fitness and mental health support strategies with parents to help promote a wellbeing centred ethos and culture. As a result of participation in the programme, families report benefits to their mental health and wellbeing. Learners are encouraged to be creative, confident and to engage in learning outdoors in an active way. The school has been awarded the John Muir Family award and an Eco Flag.

Tracking and monitoring approaches identify learners who would benefit from support to build on the school’s emotional literacy work. This system includes an informal referral system that is open to both parents and staff. Staff observe that learning outdoors helps increased numbers of children to manage their own emotions and overcoming feelings of distress and anxiety.

Participation in outdoor learning webinars and team teaching upskills teachers. This work creates a learning culture with health and wellbeing at the centre of the school’s approaches. Almost all classes now participate in some way with outdoor learning recognition events and all classes now learn many subjects outdoors every day. This impacts positively on children’s wellbeing.

During further lockdown periods, the school extended experiences to encompass home learning. A Christmas tree wonderland project dedicated trees to local hospital heroes. Every class and family dedicated a tree to a hero of their choice. The school provided all families with a pumpkin to carve, ensuring all could participate in a Hallowe’en pumpkin trail. Despite being unable to connect physically with the community and families directly, these experiences work to provide a tangible link between home, school and the community. A few parents report that their children are more able to self-regulate since participating in the programme. A number of families participated in the John Muir Learning Award by following a programme provided by the school and modelled by teachers. Following periods of remote learning, families who reconnected with the programme are now John Muir Ambassadors. They support the school to share their journey nationally and internationally.

With the re-opening of school buildings, the school has now identified support for children in the playground during breaks as an area for development. Solution focused approaches include additional staff training and collaboration with an outdoor agency partner. An updated charter for play and the purchase of outdoor resources chosen by the children supports children to manage their emotions during breaks. Next steps include expanding the wellbeing programme in all aspects into the Early Childhood Centre. This will include training across the school and early childhood centre and collaboration to formulate a shared programme with all pupils, staff, parents and partners.

Performance information

What is this?

All of the information and data we need to get a full picture of how well Scottish education is improving. We will gather together and analyse the data collected from each of the other key drivers of improvement.

Why is this important?

Evidence suggests that we must build a sound understanding of the range of factors that contribute to a successful education system. This is supported by international evidence which confirms that there is no single measure that will provide a full picture of performance. We want to use a balanced range of measures to evaluate Scottish education and take action to improve.

What is the evidence telling us?

The PISA 2018 assessment indicated that Scotland’s performance among 15 year olds had increased in reading compared to 2015 and was similar in maths and science. Compared to the OECD average, Scotland is above the average for reading, and similar for maths and Science. The background of students had less of an influence on attainment in Scotland than the OECD average.

The PISA 2018 Global Competence assessment showed that only two out of 26 countries had a higher average score than pupils in Scotland.

Data on the delivery of 1140 including how many children are accessing the entitlement in August 2021 – as at the end of August 2021, local authorities reported that:

  • c. 91,000 children were accessing funded ELC as of the end of August 2021
  • Of these, c. 88,000 children (97%) were accessing more than 600 hours (a rise of 10 percentage points on April 2021 figures), and c. 79,000 children (87%) were accessing the full 1140 hours funded ELC (a rise of 15 percentage points on April 2021 figures)
  • There has been a year-on-year increase of c. 27% in the numbers of eligible 2s accessing funded ELC, rising from 4,711 children in August 2020 to 5,986 in August 2021.

New improvement actions for the year ahead.

By Spring 2022, the Scottish Government will, in collaboration with partners, develop a national measurement framework for children and young people with additional support needs. This will create a mechanism to fully capture and celebrate the range of diverse outcomes and achievements of all children and young people nationally.

Actions in response to the Audit Scotland report

During the first half of 2022, the Scottish Government will carry out a formal consultation process to review the 11 key measures and the 15 sub-measures to measure progress towards closing the poverty related attainment gap. The revised measures will be in place for the 2023 NIF in December 2022.

Education Scotland will continue to offer support to local authorities for reporting and planning, including data, aligning to the NIF for 2021-22.

Scottish Government will work with colleagues in ADES, COSLA, and Education Scotland to consider how to secure greater visibility of the NIF drivers in local and regional improvement and recovery planning, to help to ensure a national line of sight on local ambitions and practices.

Actions in response to the Audit Scotland and ICEA reports

Plans are in place for local authorities to carry out the Health and Wellbeing and Parental Involvement and Engagement Censuses in 2021/22. The next round of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study is also due to take place in early 2022.

Specific actions include:

  • Launch Health and Wellbeing Census in LAs (August 2021) and publish results in late 2022.
  • Launch Parental Involvement & Engagement Census in LAs (Spring 2022) and publish results late 2022.
  • Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study (2022) with analysis to follow by the HBSC team

Actions in response to the ICEA report

Over the next 3 years, the Scottish Government will support the development of a Scottish Coalition for Educational Research (SCER) which aims to improve:

  • The depth and quality of policy relevant educational research across Scotland, including improving the methodological breadth of educational researchers;
  • Research collaboration among educational researchers and practitioners;
  • The communication of educational research findings to policy and practice (knowledge exchange).

SCER will create three hubs based at the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling, with proposed research activity to focus primarily on:

  • Curriculum
  • Educational equity, leadership and systems changes
  • Quantitative research in education

Performance information - case study

The Northern Alliance Regional Improvement Collaborative is diverse and spans approximately 60% of Scotland’s landmass. Our schools and the children, young people and families reside in an array of communities which are unique and complex in demography, geography and economy. The relationship between deprivation and attainment is complex. To achieve equity and excellence, our understanding of place and context, as well as meaningful use of data for improvement are vital in getting it right for every child.

We have been working with the Data for Children Collaborative (with UNICEF), which includes academics from the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser Allander Institute and Glasgow Caledonian University’s Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit. We also collaborate with East Neuk Analytics who support schools interpret and analyse data. Our collaboration has also extended beyond Scotland to India – with support from the Civic Data Lab. The aim of this collaboration is to determine what data sources and techniques best reflect the challenges of child poverty, capture the needs within individual contexts, and subsequently enable schools, settings local authorities and other bodies to plan more effective interventions to improve outcomes for all of our children and young people. As part of this process, we are also exploring how key data sources can be made more accessible to schools and settings as and when they need it.

Already, we have hosted workshops with teaching staff, educational psychologists, quality improvement officers, education support officers and attainment advisors in developing a rich understanding of the factors we need to consider in mapping the world around the child as well as illustrating that rich picture to stakeholders who can use that information to make a real difference. From our engagements, we have conducted a robust mapping of the data eco-system, drawing on education staff; local child poverty action report leads; third sector organisations; health and social care partners; economists and Scottish Government officials.

Understanding what data is collected at a local and national level and how that might be used effectively is one of our key lines of enquiry. We have also been engaging with our stakeholders to understand existing data systems and how they support their day-to-day work and how we can more effectively utilise technological infrastructure to capture and analyse data for improvement.

All this work is facilitated and enabled in collaboration with our Regional Improvement Collaborative’s Data for Improvement network which is a forum consisting of local authority colleagues who share practice regarding the effective and appropriate use of data. It is here that we have agreed to complement the work of the Data for Children Collaborative (with UNICEF) and develop 3 key areas around the use of data for improvement:

  • Acceptability
  • Accessibility
  • Quality

Moving forward, we will continue to connect with colleagues within and beyond the region to collaborate, generate ideas and test our theories. These developments complement each other in navigating a shared path towards even more effective use of data in order to improve outcomes for children and young people, regardless of where they live and learn.



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