Delivering Excellence and Equity in Scottish Education: A Delivery Plan for Scotland

This delivery plan clearly sets out how the Scottish Government will work with partners to deliver excellence and equity for every child in education in Scotland.

A Clear Focus on Improvement

The next section of the delivery plan provides key actions we will take to continue implementation of the National Improvement Framework. The Framework provides focus and clarity on the main areas for improvement in Scottish education, and sets out the evidence and data we need to support that improvement. It is part of a revolution in transparency on the performance of schools and local authorities. The current priorities set out in the National Improvement Framework are:

  • Improvement in attainment, particularly in literacy and numeracy.
  • Closing the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged children.
  • Improvement in children and young people's health and wellbeing.
  • Improvement in employability skills and sustained, positive school leaver destinations for all young people.

The action we will take is summarised under each of the six key drivers for improvement set out within the Framework:

  • School leadership
  • Teacher professionalism
  • Parental engagement
  • Assessment of children's progress
  • School improvement
  • Performance information

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School Leadership

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Leadership is recognised as one of the most important aspects of the success of any school. Leaders at all levels who are empowered, and who empower others to take ownership of their own learning, have a strong track record of ensuring the highest quality of learning and teaching. This in turn helps to ensure that all children achieve the best possible outcomes.

Highly effective leadership is key in ensuring the highest possible standards and expectations are shared across schools to achieve excellence and equity for all. We want to empower the leaders at all levels in our schools. We believe good leaders are best placed to improve outcomes for our children and can drive further improvement by collaborating across boundaries.

What we will do to deliver

  • We will continue to support the Scottish College for Educational Leadership in their vital role in supporting leadership development for all education practitioners across Scotland, with an ambitious new package of support in place by March 2017 for aspiring, new and experienced headteachers. This will include professional learning opportunities to strengthen and expand school leadership skills, an international exchange programme for school leaders, and the development of a network of local champions to support headteachers to draw on local expertise and work in partnership with the wider community.
  • As part of the Governance Review in September 2016, we will consider leadership throughout the system, building on existing shared headship models and supporting the development of school clusters and regional models. This will support a strengthened middle and the importance of collaborative leadership.
  • We will support up to 160 aspiring headteachers each year to go through the 'Into Headship' programme, with an investment of £1.5 million over the next 3 years (up to 2018-19).
  • 'We will make holding the Standard for Headship mandatory for all new Headteachers by August 2019 and will consult by the end of 2016 on the legislation that will achieve this.
  • We will continue to support teachers' professional learning through further investment of close to £1 million in Masters level learning during 2016-17. We will also carry out a research project to be completed by December 2017 to evaluate the impact of this substantial investment.

Teacher Professionalism

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The quality of teaching is a key factor in improving children's learning and the outcomes that they achieve. In Scotland we have a highly professional, graduate teaching workforce with high professional standards, which are set by the General Teaching Council for Scotland. We want to continue to improve the professionalism of our teachers and the quality and impact of their professional learning.

There is a strong link between teachers' professional skills and competences and the quality of children's learning experiences. Ensuring the highest professional standards for all teachers in Scotland will help to ensure the highest standards and expectations for all children. We want all new teachers to develop as enquiring professionals who are experts in teaching literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing, including early childhood development where appropriate. This is critical to ensure the strongest possible progression in learning for all children.

What we will do to deliver

  • We remain committed to ensuring that we have the right number of teachers, with the right skills, in the right places to educate our young people. All local authorities in Scotland have been allocated an appropriate share of £88 million funding provided to meet the agreement to maintain teacher numbers and support probationer teachers.
  • We will work with Initial Teacher Education providers and other key partners to address issues of staffing supply and capacity at a national level in order to support the Scottish Attainment Challenge. We will introduce new and innovative routes into teaching and promote the teaching profession by:
    • Addressing the ongoing issue of teacher recruitment in the North East through the Transition Training Fund, in partnership with the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils. Through investment of £400,000 in 2016-17 we will provide guaranteed employment for up 20 individuals from the oil and gas sector while they train as teachers in STEM subjects.
    • Developing Scottish Masters programme for Initial Teacher Education in 2016-17 covering primary and secondary allowing a clear focus on transition between primary and secondary.
    • Extending support for Masters in Early Years to provide leadership in this sector.
    • Providing development funding to the University of the Highlands and Islands to build on its model of delivering of Initial Teacher Education through local colleges.
    • Expanding existing distance learning provision models of Initial Teacher Education.
    • Developing a new route which is focused on getting high-quality graduates into priority areas and subjects. This will be in place by 2017-18. This will build on the model developed in partnership with the University of Aberdeen to attract career changers to the profession.
    • Maintaining our strong focus on Gaelic teacher supply with promotional campaigns, innovative courses and new routes into Gaelic teaching.
  • We need to encourage more people into early learning and childcare and teaching, particularly those groups under-represented in teaching (men and minority ethnic communities) as well as in particular subjects ( STEM) and geographical areas. We will extend our recruitment campaign, building on the positive work of the current campaign, to address these issues to be in place by end 2016.
  • We will work with Education Scotland and the General Teaching Council for Scotland to undertake a review of Initial Teacher Education programmes to report by April 2017, to ensure that they provide appropriate detail on content for literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing, data literacy and equality across both primary and secondary sectors.
  • We will work with the General Teaching Council for Scotland to provide more support to teachers on equality issues through Career Long Professional Learning to be in place by August 2017.
  • We will work with Education Scotland and the General Teaching Council for Scotland to explore options to bring further flexibility into registration for teachers who have qualified outside Scotland by March 2017, while ensuring that our high level of teacher professional standards are maintained.
  • We will support the Scottish Catholic Education Service to widen access to the Catholic Teacher Certificate for teaching students studying at the Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde, this will be in place for the 2016-17 academic year.

Parental Engagement

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Parents and families are the most important and influential people in children and young people's lives, and are central to achieving our aims of raising attainment for all and closing the attainment gap. We want to ensure that parents and families are equal partners in their child's education and learning at home, at school, and in their community.

We will support all schools to further improve parental engagement and develop family learning programmes that support children's progress and achievement. This also means empowering parents and enabling them to be active participants and effective contributors to the life of the school and to school improvement.

What we will do to deliver

  • We will publish an in-depth review looking at the available evidence on family learning programmes. The review, which will involve key partners, will look at what works and why and will publish its conclusions in December 2016. This will be supported by a 'What works' study of the international evidence which will draw out world leading practice.
  • We will lead a revolution in transparency on school performance through further improvements to ParentZone - the national online resource for parents by August 2018. We will publish additional clear information on each school on a range of key measures, such as attendance rates, children's progress and grades from school inspection.
  • As highlighted earlier, we will provide support for learning communities in the Scottish Attainment Challenge to develop progressive family learning programmes by the end of 2017. We will provide support for all learning communities to roll out this approach by the end of 2018.
  • Parents want to be informed about their children's progress and achievements, what they need to learn next and how they, as parents, can best support them. We will develop guidance on reporting to parents by January 2017 in order to support better reporting.
  • We will work with the National Parent Forum of Scotland and other parent organisations to develop a comprehensive parent communication plan for the National Improvement Framework by September 2016.
  • We will continue to deliver our national campaigns and gifting programmes to parents and families across Scotland - Bookbug, PlayTalkRead and Read, Write, Count - providing a universal offer supporting parents to help kick start their children's learning from an early age. As mentioned earlier, we will extend the Read, Write, Count Programme into P4-7 in areas of high deprivation from April 2017. In addition, the first round of Read, Write, Count gift bags will be gifted to families of P2 and P3 children in November 2016.
  • We will work with local authorities to understand the nature of parental demand for early learning and childcare in their areas, so that provision of additional free hours can be sufficiently flexible to respond to need. This will also include the development of opportunities for further integration with additional hours and out-of-school care
    by June 2017.
  • We will promote the opportunities afforded by the development of extended early learning and childcare to provide family and employability support for parents by June 2017.

Assessment of Children's Progress

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We need more robust and consistent evidence on what children learn and achieve throughout their education to help us raise attainment and close the gap. Building on the range of data available on the senior phase, we need a greater range of consistent assessment of children's progress through the broad general education. Collecting data on children's progress will help practitioners, early learning and childcare settings and schools to evaluate how well children are achieving and which practices and interventions are having an impact.

What we will do to deliver

  • We will continue to gather a wide range of data that will tell us how well our children and young people are doing, for example SQA exam data, employability and leaver destination data and health and wellbeing data.
  • From August 2016, we will collect teacher professional judgement data on an annual basis on whether individual children have achieved the expected Curriculum for Excellence levels in literacy and numeracy by the end of P1, P4, P7 and S3.
  • From October 2016 we will provide further support for local and national quality assurance and moderation of teacher judgement of Curriculum for Excellence levels.
  • From December 2016 until May 2017 we will carry out implementation testing of new standardised assessment materials in schools across Scotland. The results will inform teacher judgement of children's achievement of Curriculum for Excellence levels.
  • From August 2017 the new standardised assessments will be used by all schools.
  • In December 2016 we will publish plans for gathering information about the health and wellbeing of children and young people, including the data gathered at early years stages.
  • In December 2016 we will publish appropriate performance indicators on employability skills and positive school leaver destinations for inclusion in the National Improvement Framework.
  • In August 2018, we will make available national standardised assessments for children in Gaelic Medium Education.

School Improvement

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School 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. We have a good education system in Scotland, with schools achieving good outcomes for children. We want to continue to improve this so that more children experience very good and excellent education services, delivered by self-improving, empowered schools and key partners such as community learning and development professionals.

What we will do to deliver

  • From September 2016 school inspections and other Education Scotland evaluative activity will be more focused on the priorities within the National Improvement Framework. We will gather evidence on the quality of learning, teaching and assessment, progress in raising attainment and achievement, and the leadership of change through school inspection.
  • By June 2017 we will develop a new Standards and Evaluation Framework, which will set out clear expectations for schools and the focus and frequency of school inspection.
  • By the end of 2016, we will provide advice and support to ensure that schools, parents, communities are effectively involved in improvement planning on the basis of the evidence generated by the National Improvement Framework and school self-evaluation.
  • By January 2017, we will issue advice to support more consistent and robust annual reporting on school improvement.
  • In September 2017, we will gather information from 2016-17 school inspections and other evaluative activity on the quality of learning, teaching and assessment, progress in raising attainment and achievement, and the quality of partnerships.
  • By the end of 2017, we will support the publication of school-level reporting for parents and communities against their own action plans.

Performance Information

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We will pull together all the information and data we need to support improvement. Evidence suggests, and the feedback from the National Improvement Framework tells us, that we must ensure we 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 specific measure that will provide a picture of performance. We want to use a balanced range of measures to evaluate Scottish education and take action to improve further.

We will publish performance information on a school-by-school basis, to improve public confidence, transparency and ensure that information is available across Scottish education, for parents and community planning, for schools and local authorities, and at a national level to inform strategic resourcing and planning.

What we will do to deliver

  • We will establish a new International Council of Education Advisors during summer 2016, with the first meeting of the Council taking place in September. In August 2016 we will establish a panel of teachers to discuss key developments in Scottish education and to monitor workload demands.
  • In December 2016, we will publish an annual National Improvement Framework report, with progress against the four priorities and evidence against all of the 6 drivers of improvement.
  • On an ongoing basis from now, and by December 2016, we will conduct a thorough analysis of all the evidence generated by the National Improvement Framework in consultation with stakeholders and with scrutiny from the new International Council of Education Advisors.
  • By December 2016, we will publish an improvement plan and any revisions to the National Improvement Framework in consultation with key stakeholders.
  • By December 2016 we will publish a research strategy that makes clear any gaps in our evidence base and how these gaps will be filled.
  • By February 2017, we will share evidence of what is working in helping us achieve the four priorities and where further research or evaluation is needed.
  • In March 2017, to support current legislation we will publish Statutory Guidance to support local authorities in carrying out their duties to plan and report on the National Improvement Framework, including advice on how they use performance information for this purpose.
  • By March 2017, we will publish information for parents on a school-by-school basis, including for the first time information on achievement of Curriculum for Excellence levels in literacy and numeracy at stages P1, P4, P7 and S3.
  • In May 2017, we will publish the literacy results from the 2016 Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy. Given the implementation of the National Improvement Framework and the data that it will provide, this will be the final set of results from the SSLN.
  • Before July 2017, we will host an International Conference on improvement and the use of performance information, to learn from other countries and international experts on using knowledge and high quality data for improvement.
  • By summer 2017, we will publish a draft information 'dashboard' covering the Broad General Education - making detailed performance information available to teachers and local authorities.
  • By December 2017, we will consider further evidence from early years, Developing the Young Workforce and on health and wellbeing to use in the Improvement Framework.

What next

We are committed to supporting and empowering our teachers, headteachers, parents, and communities to deliver an education system that gives all young people the chance to reach their potential and achieve their ambitions.

This Delivery Plan outlines the steps this Government will take to achieve our priorities for education. The reforms that we plan are substantial and our ambition is clear. We will deliver change on the basis of evidence and through engagement with teachers, parents, local government, trade unions and young people. The recent Education Summit brought together key partners and political leaders to share ideas for change and we invited teaching unions to identify specific, tangible ways to reduce unnecessary teacher workload.

We will build on this approach welcoming positive proposals for change. We have committed to establish a new panel of class teachers to work with us to reduce workload in our schools a as well as an International Council of Education Advisors and to developing and publishing a research strategy. We will continue to invite everyone to work with us in this national endeavour, to raise attainment and close the equity gap for all our children and young people.


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