Literacy levels drop among Scots pupils

Reading and writing standards among younger pupils in Scotland have fallen, official figures have revealed.

Reading and writing standards among younger pupils in Scotland have fallen, official figures have revealed.

The writing performance of youngsters in the second year of secondary and the final year of Primary fell between 2016 and 2012, according to the latest Scottish Survey for Literacy and Numeracy. The reading ability of children in Primary 4 and Primary 7 was also down slightly, according to the annual survey.

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Education Secretary John Swinney admitted the findings are "not good enough" and pledged to press ahead with reforms of the schooling system to push up standards.

But opponents branded the results “shameful” and accused the nationalists of neglecting education to focus on another referendum.

"I want to see standards and attainment improving in Scottish education," Mr Swinney said.

"A stable performance and drop in S2 writing is simply not good enough.

“There are four key areas where we need improvement. We need to better understand the progress of individual pupils, be clear about the standards expected in our classrooms while stripping out bureaucracy to free teachers to teach, and ensure literacy skills are fully embedded across the curriculum.

“This government is already taking action to provide teachers and schools with the tools – through the literacy benchmarks and standardised assessments - and the resources – through the Scottish Attainment Challenge and Pupil Equity Funding – to improve literacy.

“These reforms are not an overnight solution: it will take time before we see their full effect and we must stay the course. But if anyone looking at these literacy results thinks nothing more needs to change in Scottish education then they are mistaken. Further reform is now imperative.”

Nicola Sturgeon has insisted education is her main priority in office. Mr Swinney is poised to introduce sweeping reforms to the system including new educational regions which share best practice among the top and poorer performing schools.

The survey is an annual sample which monitors national performance in literacy and numeracy in alternate years for P4, P7 and S2. About 10,000 pupils in 2,,250 pupils took part in the 2016 survey.

Tory education spokesman Liz Smith said: “These are shameful results which show that over its ten years in office this SNP government has failed a generation.

“Performance in writing still seems to be the biggest problem, including the fact that there appears to be a disparity between pupils’ views of how they are performing in writing and listening and how they are actually performing.

Labour’s Education spokesperson Iain Gray said: “These figures are the education legacy of ten years of SNP government and they are an absolute disgrace.

“Standards in both reading and writing have fallen since since 2012 and the gap between the richest pupils and the rest has not closed.

“No child should have their life chances determined by their background – yet that is exactly what is happening under a Nationalist government obsessed with the constitution.”