This indicator is composed of 7 sub-measures. These measures are:
- sub-measure 1: percent of primary 1, 4 and 7 pupils attaining expected literacy level
- sub-measure 2: percent of secondary 3 pupils attaining expected literacy level
- sub-measure 3: percent of primary 1, 4 and 7 pupils attaining expected numeracy level
- sub-measure 4: percent of secondary 3 pupils attaining expected numeracy level
- sub-measure 5: percent of school leavers with 1 award or more at SCQF Level 4 or above
- sub-measure 6: percent of school leavers with 1 award or more at SCQF Level 5 or above
- sub-measure 7: percent of school leavers with 1 award or more at SCQF Level 6 or above
Educational Attainment of Scotland’s children and young people will have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This should be kept in mind when considering the latest figures and – more importantly – when comparing them to earlier figures from 2018/19 and before.
Literacy and numeracy attainment (sub-measures (i) to (iv):
- Data could not be collected for sub-measures (i) to (iv) for 2019/20 due to the closure of schools resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Similarly, data could not be collected for sub-measures (ii) and (iv) for 2020/21 due to other pressures on secondary schools resulting from the pandemic.
- For sub-measures (i) and (iii), comparing results for 2020/21 to the last available data (2018/19 ~ pre-pandemic) shows that the proportion of Primary 1, 4 and 7 children (combined) achieving expected levels in literacy decreased by 5.4 percentage points from 72.3% in 2018/19 to 66.9% in 2020/21. The proportion achieving the expected level in numeracy decreased by 4.4 percentage points from 79.1% in 2018/19 to 74.7% in 2020/21.
- For sub-measures (ii) and (iv), the latest data available is for 2018/19. This is pre-pandemic and so does not reflect the impact of school closures and possible associated loss of learning. Between 2017/18 and 2018/19 there were increases in the proportions of Secondary 3 pupils achieving level 3 or better in literacy (up 0.6 percentage points from 87.3% in 2017/18 to 87.9% in 2018/19) and level 3 or better in numeracy (up 1.1 percentage points from 89.0% in 2017/18 to 90.2% in 2018/19).
School leaver attainment data in National Qualifications (sub-measures (v) to (vii)):
- School leaver attainment data is available for 2019/20 and 2020/21. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic led to the cancellation of National 5 (SCQF Level 5), Higher (SCQF Level 6) and Advanced Higher (SCQF Level 7) exams in both 2019/20 and 2020/21. Grades in these qualifications were instead based on teacher estimates in 2019/20, and on teacher and lecturer professional judgement of learners’ demonstrated attainment in 2020/21. This will have affected the attainment of some 2019/20 and 2020/21 school leavers.
- In addition, the pandemic may have affected pupils’ decisions on when to leave school (for example, delaying leaving from 2019/20 to 2020/21), which may have affected their attainment. Care must therefore be taken when comparing the attainment of 2020/21 school leavers and 2019/20 school leavers, and when comparing these to the attainment of earlier school leaver cohorts.
- Any changes between the attainment levels of 2020/21 leavers, the 2019/20 leavers, and those of previous years should not be seen as an indication that performance has improved or worsened, without further evidence.
The data shows that:
- 96.2% of 2020/21 school leavers achieved 1 pass or more at SCQF Level 4 or better. This compares to 95.8% in 2019/20. 87.7% achieved 1 pass or more at SCQF Level 5 or better in 2020/21. This compares to 85.7% in 2019/20.
- At SCQF Level 6 or better, 66.0% of 2020/21 school leavers achieved 1 pass or more. This compares to 63.9% in 2019/20.
In terms of the disaggregated data for this indicator;
- Attainment in each sub-measure varies by ethnic group. Across most measures those in the Asian – Indian and Asian – Chinese groups have relatively high levels of attainment. For example, in 2020/21, 94.7% of Asian – Chinese and 84.9% of Asian - Indian school leavers attained 1 pass or more at SCQF Level 6 or better. This compares to 66.0% across all school leavers.
- Attainment varies by SIMD quintile, with those from the least deprived areas having higher levels of attainment than those from the most deprived areas. For example, in 2020/21, 86.5% of primary school pupils from the least deprived areas attained the expected levels in numeracy (sub-measure iii) compared to 65.0% of primary school pupils from the most deprived areas. Similarly, for sub-measure (vi), 96.1% of 2020/21 school leavers from the least deprived areas attained 1 pass or more at SCQF Level 5 or better compared to 77.9% of school leavers from the most deprived areas.
- The attainment sub-measures show variation in attainment by urban/rural category. It is difficult to identify consistent patterns. In 2020/21, pupils living in Accessible Rural and Remote Rural areas were the most likely to achieve at SCQF Levels 4 or better and 5 or better (sub-measures (v) and (vi)), while pupils living in Accessible Rural areas and Large Urban areas have the highest levels of attainment at SCQF level 6 or better (sub-measure (vii)). For sub-measures (i) and (iii) in 2020/21, pupils from Remote Small Towns were less likely to have achieved the expected level than those in other areas
This indicator can be broken down by ethnicity, gender, local authority and Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. These breakdowns can be viewed on the Equality Evidence Finder.