Reviews of National Policies for Education - Quality and Equity of Schooling in Scotland
Scotland consistently performs at a very high standard in OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and has one of the most equitable school systems in the OECD. These achievements reflect Scotland’s strong commitment to improvement in education.
This review examines the strengths of Scotland’s schools and the challenges they face in securing high standards for all children. One major challenge is an achievement gap that opens up late in primary education and widens through junior secondary years: children from poorer backgrounds are more likely than others to under-achieve. A second challenge for Scotland is to achieve broader and more successful participation in upper secondary education and greater equity in higher education.
The review assesses the performance of Scottish schools, using PISA findings and national test and examination results. It also examines educational reforms in Scotland in the light of reforms in countries facing similar challenges.
Scotland performs at a consistently very high standard in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Few countries can be said with confidence to outperform it in mathematics, reading and science. Scotland also has one of the most equitable school systems in the OECD. Only a very small proportion of Scottish 15 year-olds are assessed in the lowest bands of performance. Headteachers are amongst the most positive of school principals in the OECD in judging the adequacy of staffing and teaching resources, and students are generally very positive about their schools. Underpinning the impressive international performance of Scottish schools is a system of near-universal and high-quality pre-school education.
On national tests, many children are one or two years in advance of expected levels. There have been significant reductions in underachievement. There is now greater consistency of achievement in the earlier years of primary school. Higher proportions of students in the final year of compulsory school are passing at the highest levels of the examinations. Notable progress has been made in improving the achievement of children living in poverty.
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