Education: National Improvement Framework and improvement plan 2024

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.


Scotland’s education system has a long history of excellence in learning and teaching, with a highly skilled and professional teaching and practitioner workforce. Having been fortunate enough to work in education for a decade before I was elected as an MSP, I know just how dedicated our workforce is – not just our early years practitioners and teachers, but all those who work alongside them to ensure our children and young people receive the education they need and deserve.

I am also aware that our schools and education settings have faced unprecedented upheaval over the last 3 years, largely as a result of the pandemic, but also due to the cost of living crisis which has had a disproportionate impact on communities which were already disadvantaged. Higher energy bills and more expensive food have been hitting our poorest children and families hardest, and all while we continue to recover from a global pandemic.

Being out of school and early years settings during the pandemic has also had a profound impact on our children and young people. It has changed the type of learning we see in our classrooms and settings, and it has altered relationships between settings, school and home, which are usually built over time and with consistent expectations.

There are a number of societal and socio-economic factors which are outwith the control of schools and Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings, but which can have a significant impact on learning and achievement. We have to recognise those impacts while striving to have schools and settings which are ambitious for all our young people who have the right to expect a first class education, no matter where in Scotland they live. Excellent teaching is already happening in ELC settings and schools across Scotland – the latest Achievement of CfE level data continues to show real recovery from the pandemic, and the attainment gap is narrowing, but more must be done to support the profession.

As the International Council of Education Advisers said in its most recent report, we must invest in education professionals’ learning to address the changing needs of young people. The plans I announced recently for a new Centre for Teaching Excellence will help to deliver that recommendation. But I was also struck by a quote from an earlier ICEA report which said “schools are also places where certified professionals can know and respond to their diverse students as whole human beings with distinctive talents and needs.” This was echoed in the report of the national discussion on education facilitated by professors Alma Harris and Carol Campbell that “the most powerful message emanating from the National Discussion in Scotland is the need to educate all learners in Scotland for an uncertain and unpredictable future.”

That need to deliver for all our children and young people is why I believe it is crucial for all parts of the education and skills system to work together to deliver excellence and equity for all. I am confident that by working together and by taking collective responsibility for change, we can deliver improved outcomes for all of Scotland’s children and young people.

Jenny Gilruth MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills

December 2023



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