National improvement framework for Scottish education: evidence report 2017

An overview of available current evidence on achievement, attainment, health and wellbeing, in Scottish education.


The National Improvement Framework

In January 2016, the Scottish Government published its National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education.

The National Improvement Framework identifies four key priorities:

  • 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.

Everyone working in Scottish education should be clear about what they are seeking to achieve in making their contribution to addressing these priorities. There may be further improvement priorities at school level, based on local needs and self-evaluation.

The priorities may change over time, depending on what the evidence shows. Indeed, we expect they will as issues are addressed successfully and new priorities emerge.

The National Improvement Framework also sets out six key drivers for improvement which provide a focus and structure for gathering evidence which can then be analysed to identify where further improvements are required.

The key drivers for improvement are:

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

The links across these key areas are essential to enable continuous improvement. They are all equally important.

The key drivers for improvement

More information on these components can be found at:

Purpose of this report

This evidence report gives an overview of what we know about Scottish education and the context in which our children and young people learn. It brings together available current evidence on achievement, attainment, health and wellbeing, and the wider education system, with a specific focus on differences between children living in the most deprived and least deprived areas. It aims to present an objective picture of Scottish education, based on a wide range of sources.

Such evidence is crucial to be able to learn from good practice and develop plans for improvement where needed. This is why one of the drivers for improvement set out in the National Improvement Framework is performance information: information on the extent to which we are achieving the aims of the Framework.

This report brings together information on pupils' achievement, attainment and health and wellbeing from a range of existing data sources, such as the Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence ( CfE) Levels return (based on Teacher Professional Judgements) introduced in 2015/16, Pupil Census, Teacher Census, Attendance, Absence and Exclusions, 27-30 month Child Health Reviews, Scottish Health Survey, HMI inspections, the General Teaching Council for Scotland ( GTCS), the Scottish Qualifications Authority ( SQA), and Skills Development Scotland ( SDS).

Whilst these sources provide evidence on different aspects of the system, and use differing methodologies, together they give a broad picture of education in Scotland.

This evidence report is an updated version of the 2016 Evidence Report that was published by the Scottish Government in December 2016.

Context: The Scottish school system

Summary statistics for schools in Scotland 2017
Summary statistics for schools in Scotland 2017

Additional Support Needs

26.6% of all pupils had an additional support need recorded in 2017.

More information on pupil and teacher numbers, and on pupils with additional support needs, can be found in the annual Scottish Government publication Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland.

Looked After Children

At 31 July 2016, there were 15,317 looked after children – a decrease of 83 (or less than 1%) from 2015. This is the fourth consecutive year the numbers have decreased following a peak of 16,248 in 2012, although this year's decline is small.

More information can be found in the Children's Social Work Statistics Scotland publication.


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