Increasing number of pupils leaving school with vital skills

Published: Wednesday, 26th November 2014

Consistent improvement in the percentage of senior secondary school pupils achieving numeracy and literacy standards have been noted in Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) data for the Borders.

However, we are committed to ensuring even more pupils succeed and are sufficiently prepared for further and higher education and for the world of work.

A new ‘Raising Attainment’ policy will be produced for the next school year, which will build on new comparison data we are receiving on pupil performance, which will be used to benchmark attainment against comparator and national performance data.

A report on the SQA data was given to our Education Committee on Tuesday 25 November.

Attainment statistics

The percentage of S4 pupils achieving literacy and numeracy at level four (National 4) was 82 per cent in 2014, up from 67 per cent in 2012. At National 5 level, 39 per cent of S4 pupils also passed certain modules within English and maths, also considerably up on the 2012 figure of 26 per cent.

A 10 per cent increase in the number of S5 pupils achieving numeracy and literacy modules at National 4 level has also been noted in 2014 compared to 2012, and almost half of S5 pupils (based on the S4 roll the previous year) passed the modules.

Consistent improvements were also reported in the number of S6 pupils achieving passes at National 5 and Higher level in 2014.

However in some areas the performance was below that recorded at a national level, and in a new ‘virtual comparator’ authority.

Comparison tool

A national online comparison tool - INSIGHT - has been developed and allows our education officers and teachers to analyse, compare and improve performance of pupils in the senior phase of secondary school.

It enables detailed information and comparisons to be analysed, including at socio-economic levels. INSIGHT also replaces the old system of schools being compared against each other, with a ‘virtual comparator’ created for individual schools and local authorities which will enable a far more accurate comparison to be made of how a school is performing.

This is built around four key characteristics: gender balance, staying on rates, time spent in mainstream classes, and deprivation. From these four areas the tool will match ten pupils from across Scotland to every one of the pupils in the school/local authority to produce a virtual school/authority.

Ongoing work with parent councils, community learning and development and learning community partners will support improved decision making at school and regional level using the INSIGHT tool.

Councillor Sandy Aitchison, Executive Member for Education

“The figures from the SQA show that Scottish Borders Council is continuing to provide an excellent education to our young people, and more than ever are achieving success in numeracy and literacy.

“However we are not complacent and there are areas that we can improve on to ensure that as many of our young people as possible are achieving at the same or higher level as their peers across the country.

“The new comparison data we are receiving has already helped our senior education officers and headteachers identify action plans for aspects requiring more focused attention across departments or at whole school level.

“This will ensure that high expectations of attainment and achievement are consistent across our schools, both individually and collectively. It will also help to make sure that we are assisting all pupils to achieve to the best of their abilities and allow schools to identify where they can make the biggest impact on pupil performance.”

Teachers praised

At the meeting our school teachers were also praised for their effort in ensuring pupils were fully prepared for the new qualifications introduced this year.

A key focus over the next school year will be STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), and our senior education officer team will be prioritising their support towards literacy, numeracy and STEM.