Tha na Slatan-tomhais litearrachd is Gàidhlig a nis ri fhaighinn ann an Gàidhlig aig:
The Gaelic version of the Benchmarks for literacy and Gàidhlig are now available at:
Tha na Slatan-tomhais litearrachd is Gàidhlig a nis ri fhaighinn ann an Gàidhlig aig:
The Gaelic version of the Benchmarks for literacy and Gàidhlig are now available at:
Tha “Dè cho math ’s a tha ar tràth-ionnsachadh agus ar cùram-chloinne?” a nis ri fhaighinn ann an Gàidhlig aig:
The Gaelic version of “How good is our early learning and childcare?” is now available at:
A blog by Lorna Harvey, Acting Senior Education Officer
for Numeracy and Mathematics
Last year ( August 2016), we published draft Benchmarks for literacy and English and for numeracy and mathematics with the aim of providing clarity on the national standards expected at each level of the Broad General Education. We wanted to make clear what learners need to know and what they need to be able to do to progress through the levels, and to provide guidance that would support consistency in teachers’ and other practitioners’ professional judgements.
By publishing the Benchmarks in draft, we wanted to ensure we had time to consult with the very people who would be using the Benchmarks. We were committed to developing guidance that would hit the mark and achieve our aim of providing clarity.
From the outset we were keen to hear from as many practitioners as possible and we wanted to make sure anyone wishing to provide feedback felt confident that they could be as open and honest as they wished. To achieve that we set up an anonymous online consultation, but we also planned a number of face-to-face sessions allowing for more depth to our discussions and the opportunity for people to ask questions.
A number of National Network events provided opportunities for practitioners from across Scotland to contribute to this consultation process. This included the National Literacy Network, the National Numeracy Network and the Principal Teacher/Faculty Head Forum for Mathematics. Colleagues from SQA were involved in many of these discussions.
Some people decided to get together with colleagues and offer suggestions, while others wanted to provide their individual response. Whichever way people chose to provide feedback, it was extremely valuable. It was great to receive insight based on practitioners’ engagement with the Benchmarks in their education setting.
Together with my colleagues across Education Scotland , I worked on collating the results and analysing the feedback before making relevant changes to the Benchmarks. A number of stakeholders had offered to be involved in further consultation so we shared the updated Benchmarks and gathered more feedback as part of the process.
And then we had them. The final Benchmarks, shaped by practitioners and providing the clarity that we had been aiming for. A real collaborative effort.
We have now published the Benchmarks on our National Improvement Hub and would encourage practitioners to familiarise themselves with the documents before they begin using them in their setting. It’s also worth having a look at the ‘change’ documents we developed which clearly show where changes have been made from the drafts. There is also a frequently asked questions document.
We have uploaded a broadcast on the National Numeracy and Mathematics Hub which provides background information, advice and guidance on using the Benchmarks. The majority of this broadcast is relevant for all practitioners and there is a specific numeracy and mathematics input also. This broadcast could be used at an In-Service day in August to raise awareness of the Benchmarks and support professional discussion and planning.
We will be providing seminars at the Scottish Learning Festival in September as well as a Yamjam – where practitioners are invited to engage in an online discussion about the Benchmarks.
We would like to say a huge thank you to all the practitioners who supported the consultation process, working with us and engaging with the drafts to provide valuable feedback to help shape the final documents
What’s the Big Idea?
The 2017 Edinburgh International Book Festival Baillie Gifford Schools Programme challenges young minds to question, imagine and wonder. The programme brings together well-established writers, illustrators and performers from every corner of the globe, along with some shining new talent.
The programme is full of activities that will entertain, educate, enthral and inspire everyone from P1 pupils to teens and teachers, including events with bestselling illustrator Kristina Stephenson, Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy, picture book events for the youngest primary school pupils, and a Relaxed Event for pupils with Additional Support Needs.
You can find more information, download the full programme and book tickets on the Book Festival’s new Learning Site: learning.edbookfest.co.uk
As we approach the summer holidays, Scottish Water would like to make all parents and their children aware of the water safety code.
Water safety is a priority but especially during the summer months when children spend more time outdoors.
Scottish water would encourage teachers to take the time to access the Go Safe Scotland resource and deliver a water safety lesson before the summer break.
For more information go to Go Safe Scotland – Water Safety.
By Joan Esson, HM Inspector and Lead Officer for inspection of Gaelic Medium Education
The recently published report, ‘Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education 2012-2016’ (QuISE) highlighted a number of key areas of strengths and aspects for improvement from 3-18 Gaelic Medium Education (GME) inspections. You can read the chapter relating to GME on our website.
It was a great privilege to review our inspection findings for GME and evidence how the sector is developing. The approaches that are used in GME are a very effective example of language learning in Scotland. Children learn the language to a high level of fluency which enables them to access learning through Gaelic, while achieving expected attainment levels in all areas of the curriculum.
Overall, inspectors found that most children and young people in GME were making good progress in developing their fluency. By the senior phase, attainment in Gàidhlig as a subject is strong. Interest in the role of Gaelic (Learners) as an additional language, and the development of GME in some areas of Scotland, is growing.
In this blog, I would like to consider three areas that should be given initial consideration in using the QuISE report as part of the improvement journey for GME.
Education Scotland aims to support practitioners as they build capacity for improvement. The QuISE report presents an important source for practitioners’ use in self-evaluation. The chapters for early learning and childcare, primary and secondary, should be used along with the one on GME. Education Scotland’s Advice on Gaelic Education gives a strategic guide to what constitutes high-quality national practice, some of which now forms statutory Guidance. Taken together with self-evaluation frameworks, practitioners have a rich resource to enable an in-depth focus on Gaelic. Senior leaders, along with other practitioners, should take time to use these resources for self-evaluation. In future inspections, we would like to evidence improved leadership of GME, with Gaelic being at the heart of strategic planning and part of continuous improvement.
2. Closing the attainment gap
An important outcome of GME is that children attain equally well, or better, than their peers in English medium education. This gives parents confidence in GME for which we need to have a relentless focus on high-quality attainment and progress. In our forthcoming inspections, we would like to see practitioners, and indeed the children and young people themselves, being clearer on their progress and how to improve further. To clarify expectations, teachers assisted us in designing Benchmarks for literacy and Gàidhlig. These need to be used in the joint planning of learning, teaching and assessment; for monitoring and tracking of progress and in the moderation of standards.
At all times, practitioners have an important role in interacting skilfully with children, while modelling good immersion techniques to help children acquire the language. Practitioners’ skill in doing this impacts on children’s fluency. Playroom experiences are threaded together and given direction with a curriculum framework that promotes continuity and progression.
Education Scotland’s Advice on Gaelic Education (particularly chapter 7), coupled with Building the Ambition, (particularly chapters 6 and 7), present practitioners with effective pedagogy for early learning in GME. Building the Curriculum 2 details children’s natural disposition “to wonder, to be curious, to pose questions, to experiment, to suggest, to invent and to explain”. In the immersion playroom, practitioners will engage in short periods of activities that they will lead as part of children’s intended learning. At other times, children will be choosing what they play which they may initiate as they follow their interests, or be an experience planned by practitioners.
If we are to close the attainment gap in GME, we need to recognise the early gains from a strong total immersion experience as part of early learning and childcare. For this, children need to hear and absorb very fluent Gaelic across a range of play contexts. Practitioners’ quality and frequent interactions are key drivers in helping children to acquire fluency as they foster learning which is creative, investigative and exploratory.
3. Improving the leadership of the GME curriculum
The QuISE report highlighted that our strong primary GME provisions are clear on the correlation between immersion, fluency and impact on attainment. At the secondary stages, there is still more to do to ensure young people have enough opportunities to learn through Gaelic. We recognise in the QuISE report that there are challenges from shortages of Gaelic-speaking practitioners. However, we ask for more of a solution-focused approach. Our Advice on Gaelic Education (particularly chapters 9-13) gives strategic direction to the development of the GME secondary curriculum.
In our forthcoming inspections, we would like to see much more prominence given to those learning in GME as a group for whom pathways need to be developed. It would be useful to continue to develop a shared understanding of how Curriculum for Excellence, with its emphasis on the totality of learning, may be maximised for GME. Speakers of Gaelic are a key driver in planning the curriculum. Could more of our Gaelic-speaking practitioners in schools be delivering some aspect of the curriculum in Gaelic? Could they, for example, be encouraged to deliver a subject, club, universal support or an opportunity for achievement through Gaelic? The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” chimes with the need to increase the role of partners in the GME curriculum. A good starting point would be for curriculum planners to know who their Gaelic-speaking partners are, and begin to ascertain how they can assist with planning and delivery of learning.
Finally, I would like to invite you to a seminar at the Scottish Learning Festival which focuses on how technology can increase learning through the medium of Gaelic. e-Sgoil presents a digital solution to delivering the curriculum. The headteacher of e-Sgoil will share an evaluation of some pilots that ran this year. Information on how to register for this seminar, and the festival programme, are available here.
By Jackie Maley, HM Inspector and Lead Officer for early learning and childcare
This is an exciting time in Early Learning and Childcare (ELC). Planning for the expansion programme is well underway as we look ahead to what this may mean for our future inspections. There is much for practitioners to be reflecting on in their current practice to ensure this continues to improve and that they provide high-quality learning experiences for all children, including under-threes.
The recently published report, ‘Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education 2012-2016’ (QuISE) highlighted a number of key areas of strengths and aspects for improvement from ELC inspections. You can read the ELC chapter from the QuISE report on our website.
Inspectors found that the quality of children’s learning experiences continues to be an area of strength. Staff continued to promote children’s engagement and motivation in their learning. Strong relationships with children and their families were also identified as being a strength in many ELC settings.
A common aspect for development which was highlighted was the need for settings to improve their approaches to self-evaluation and, in particular, methods for monitoring and tracking children’s progress. When such approaches are robust and consistently applied by all staff, we observe children making the best possible progress while engaged in appropriately challenging learning experiences.
In the current academic year, we have inspected a number of ELC settings. It is pleasing to observe staff engaging well with ‘How Good is Our Early Learning and Childcare?’ to support them in reflecting on and improving their practice. In the best examples, we also see staff making use of ‘Building the Ambition’ guidance to support their self-evaluation activities. We know that staff engage well with the case studies included in this document to help them plan for future developments.
Over this session we have also found that staff continue to ensure that they foster strong relationships with children and their families. In a few of the settings we have visited, staff have developed their understanding of attachment to support children well. We have also noted that staff are now making more positive attempts to improve outdoor learning experiences for children. In the best examples, we see children with regular access to high-quality outdoor learning which promotes their skills in curiosity, investigation and creativity.
It is settings’ approaches to planning and assessment that still remain areas for improvement. Children need to be more involved in talking about their own learning and progress. By doing this, children will have increased motivation and development of key skills to support them in making continuous progress in their learning and development.
While we see staff keen to capture and document children’s progress, it is not always done in a consistently effective way. It is important that staff are skilled in making observations of children’s learning. It is not necessary for everything to be recorded, only those parts of learning and development that are significant for individual children.
As practitioners become more confident in documenting children’s progress, they will find they are able to plan learning better for the differing needs of the children in their care. This will also enable practitioners to provide appropriate challenge as necessary. We are now observing children engaging better with their learning profiles and, also, staff developing new approaches to involve parents more in their child’s learning. Parents joining their children in the playrooms for shared learning sessions is becoming a regular feature in many settings. We look forward to seeing how staff continue to take a creative approach to involving parents in their children’s learning as we complete this year’s ELC inspections.
The latest Briefing on Gaelic Education is now available.
Seo fiosrachadh ur:
By Alan Armstrong, Strategic Director
Our report ‘Quality and improvement in Scottish education 2012-2016’ (QuISE) points to five key aspects of education and practice which we believe should be priorities for improvement if all learners in Scotland are to achieve their potential. Many or all sectors of education should be:
Looking at these priorities from my perspective in ensuring the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence, the employability and skills agenda, and digital learning and teaching, I am struck by how the priorities inter-relate and, indeed, are interdependent.
The flexibility offered by CfE has the potential for schools to design their curriculum structures in ways that reflect fully the local contexts and aspirations of their learners. Within this, the range of progression pathways can then enable children and young people to make suitably brisk progress across the broad general education, and into and through the senior phase. This needs to be informed by improved assessment and tracking to ensure teachers, learners and parents make the most appropriate decisions at the right time.
However, there is no doubt that the curriculum structures needed to make this a reality rely very strongly on the direct contributions of partners, including agencies and local employers. Collaborations amongst staff within and across schools, with colleagues in colleges, community learning and development and other areas of expertise all combine to enrich the curriculum and motivate learners.
In early learning and childcare provision, primary and secondary schools, the new curriculum area Benchmarks are beginning to support a clearer understanding of learners’ progression across the broad general education. This will help teachers to plan the breadth, challenge and application of learning that will prepare young people for the three year learner journey of their senior phase. And that of course involves collaborations and the wide range of qualifications across the SCQF framework, exploiting again the flexibility of CfE in preparing learners for their futures.
Partnerships are the essential element in Developing the Young Workforce. I’m becoming aware of increasingly effective approaches to employability, skills and career education, often promoted through three-ways partnerships amongst schools, colleges and employers. And by now you’ll be seeing the connections with the other QuISE priorities of collaboration and more informed personal guidance that can help to exploit that full flexibility in CfE.
Digital learning and teaching has great potential to promote and improve partnership working and collaboration, locally, nationally and internationally. Teachers and pupils can gain significantly in learning from the innovative and effective practice of others. Where digital is central in planning and delivering learning and teaching, and makes use of learners’ own digital skills or develops them further, I’m in no doubt that young people benefit. Digital can and does support teachers in their tracking and monitoring, reducing bureaucracy and workload. As digital access and digital skills continues to improve, the opportunities for leaders, practitioners and learners to take steps that address the QuISE priorities are significant.
The individual QuISE chapters on each education sector highlight good practice as well as challenges in providing high quality experiences for all. The key is often the distinct professionalism of leaders and practitioners, engaging individually and collaboratively to reflect and to make the changes that matter.
Finally, effective self-evaluation is central to ensuring continuous improvement in addressing the priorities in QuISE. I am beginning to see schools, colleges, and community learning and development now looking beyond their own centre and working with all partners in undertaking self-evaluation and analysing evidence. The benefit will be greater collective understanding of how effectively their curriculum, learning, teaching and assessment genuinely meet their learners’ needs. Where that process leads to jointly agreed actions for improvement, I’m in no doubt that the learning experiences and the outcomes for all children and young people will also improve.
We have now published the individual chapters form the Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education report on our website, along with the full report. This report gives a review of our inspection findings for the period 2012-2016. It highlights areas of growing strength and key areas for further improvement.
For the first time, we have included a chapter on Gaelic Medium Education (GME) which exemplifies the growth of the sector. This chapter is available at:
The full report may be accessed at:
We would encourage those with responsibility for Gaelic Learner and Medium Education across sectors to engage with the report. In particular, the findings for Gaelic and to build these into improvement planning. Addressing these areas for improvement effectively will make a decisive contribution to achieving the twin aims of excellence and equity for Scottish learners which sits at the heart of the National Improvement Framework. For more information to support improvement, please use our Advice on Gaelic Education.
To keep up to date with Gaelic at Education Scotland, please visit our learning blog for Gaelic Medium Education and Gaelic Learner Education. We also publish Briefings on Gaelic Education for which partners’ contributions are invited.