Tag Archives: Raising Attainment

Respect for All anti-bullying guidance launches⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Anti-Bullying Week provides us with the opportunity to send a clear and positive message that bullying of any kind, whether it takes place face to face or online, is totally unacceptable and when it happens, we all have a responsibility to address it.

Today we are launching our refreshed anti-bullying guidance for everyone who works with children and young people – Respect for All: the National Approach to Anti-Bullying for Scotland’s Children and Young People. It’s every child’s right not to be bullied so we need to intervene early, and deal with bullying quickly, and effectively.

The main purpose of the refreshed guidance is to support all adults working with children and young people to develop environments where bullying cannot thrive. Environments that promote respect, celebrate difference and promote positive relationships and behaviour are less likely to see bullying as acceptable behaviour.

I want all children and young people to be included fully in their learning and to learn tolerance, promote respect and celebrate difference. Bullying of any kind must be challenged whenever and wherever it occurs. It should never be seen as a typical part of growing up.

‘Respect for All’ builds on the positive work which has already taken place in Scotland to address bullying and provides a framework for all adults working with children and young people.

It reflects Getting it Right for Every Child and recognises that bullying impacts on wellbeing and attainment. In order to thrive and achieve their full potential, children and young people need schools to be safe, nurturing, respectful and free from fear, abuse and discrimination.

In the seven years since our first National Approach to Anti-Bullying was published, Scotland has seen huge legislative and policy change, such as the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, Education (Scotland) Act 2016, and the UK Government Equality Act 2010, that have put greater focus on the health and wellbeing of children and young people.

We now understand more about how an individual’s confidence, resilience, participation and attainment can be affected by bullying. In particular, ‘Respect for All’ is clear about the impact of prejudice-based bullying – including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying – and includes guidance to help schools, youth and sports organisations respond appropriately.

Support and training

Additional supporting guidance for schools and local authorities on recording and monitoring bullying incidents will be developed and issued in the coming months. This will streamline the process and ensure uniformity in recording and monitoring by schools and local authorities.

To support the roll out of this guidance, joint training events will be held across Scotland in the New Year led by the Scottish Government, Education Scotland and respectme,our national anti-bullying service in the delivery of anti-bullying work across Scotland.

We will continue to listen to the views of our teachers, support workers, parents, carers, children and young people to ensure that the approach in ‘Respect for All’ is working and is making a difference to the lives of children and young people in Scotland.

Director of respectme Katie Rafferty said:

“We are delighted to support the launch and implementation of Respect for All and we look forward to working with partners across Scotland to help deliver a consistent and cohesive approach to anti-bullying.

“We welcomed the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Scottish Government and others to develop this national guidance – reflecting our learning from ten years of anti-bullying work and the experiences of children and young people and the adults who play a role in their lives.

“respectme will continue to offer free training, policy support and resources that are designed to enable adults to prevent and respond to bullying effectively, and help children and young people realise their right to live free from bullying and harassment.”

You can download Respect for All: The National Approach to Anti-Bullying for Scotland’s Children and Young People here: http://www.gov.scot/RespectforAll

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What makes great teaching?⤴



I have always been very impressed by the Sutton Trust. They are an educational think-tank or “do-tank” as they call themselves, focused on closing the attainment gap through good research. They are well known to teachers in England where schools recieve additional funding in the form of a “pupil premium” which follows learners from areas of deprivation. (Dreadful term in my view). Schools want to spend this pupil premium money wisely, and therefore the Sutton Trust’s list of different intervention programmes in schools, graded by effectiveness in raising attainment and correlated against good research, is invaluable and consequently very fully used by schools there.

They have identified a real problem; good research exists about learning in schools, but making sense of it for our own settings and circumstances is like panning for gold. It shouldn’t be like this; bodies like the Sutton Trust realise this and they commission their own research and meta-research to help sift through the swirling sands to hand us the raw nuggets. This meta-research is particularly helpful, since individual studies are often not statistically significant, or they are located so narrowly in the setting of the study that we can’t generalise the findings. A meta-study takes a larger sample of lots of the studies, and pulls out statistically significant wider trends that we can be more sure of, and therefore act-on with more confidence. One recent example of this was Professor John Hattie’s meta-study (Visible Learning study) of the effectiveness of schooling interventions such as AfL and reducing class sizes. This has been hugely influential in Scottish policy making and practice since 2009 when it was published.


Well, all of this leads to me making a learning suggestion. The Sutton Trust have produced a really excellent meta-study in the form of “What makes great teaching?” by Coe, Aloisi, Higgins and Major. This work from October last year explores what works in learning and teaching, and what doesn’t. There are comforting messages in here for us, as much of what we do is endorsed, and of course, there are challenges for us too, as some of our frequently observed practices simply do not have a backing in meta-research. If we are serious about continuous improvement, then reports like this should be essential reading. Thankfully authoritative ones like this don’t come by all that often, so we don’t need to feel too overwhelmed. To be frank, school improvement must be underpinned by really strong shared understanding about what is most likely to work; all teachers and Quality Improvement Professionals working in schools should grab a nice hot drink and take an hour or so to enjoy this.

On a more playful note, I feel that someone should do a meta-study of “readability of useful reports”. Much useful academic research is strangled-at-birth because it is utterly unreadable and therefore lost. This one is “fairly readable” while the content is invaluable. When I get commissioned to produce the Boyle readability/usefulness scale, (please?), this will score highly but with a “mildly hard thinking but worth it” warning stamped on the cover!

Get it here for free:




Us Together: Supporting Scotland’s Children and their Fathers⤴


Us Together: Supporting Scotland’s Children and their Fathers officially launched in March 2014 with a clear aim of improving the outcomes of children of lone parent fathers. The project is funded through the Third Sector Early Intervention Fund to deliver the service in Dundee, Edinburgh, Falkirk and North Lanarkshire. Us Together is part of the national third sector organisation, One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS), providing one to one support, parenting programmes, peer mentoring and family activities.

Around 8% of Scotland’s 165,500 single parents are fathers. This means approximately 13,240 families in Scotland are headed by a single dad. Single Fathers can often find it difficult to find the information that’s relevant to them. Some feel that they are viewed differently or that sometimes it’s not easy to find the right support tailored to a father’s needs. Fathers have told us all of this can make the job of bringing up children on their own feel very isolating. There are times when single dads need support that’s more tailored to their situation, and that when they are dealing with a problem they may find it more helpful to hear how other dads have coped.  This links with The National Parenting Strategy which recognises that parents are the strongest influence on their child’s life and deserve quality, expert support to be available and easily accessible when they need it. One father described becoming a single dad “When we separated it was a shock to be left with the kids. It was the amount you need to deal with as well as the emotional turmoil. It’s having to learn so much so quickly! In the evenings at home you are alone. After the kids are in bed that’s when you worry – money, hanging on to your job, feeling no-one is there to turn to…juggling work and the kids. Will I be able to keep my job- that’s what goes through your head”

One of the Family Activity Days – Mini Commonwealth Games at Beecraigs Country Park

Us Together aims to support fathers to give their children the best start in life. Neil McIntosh of OPFS said “We believe that in order to get it right for every child we need to get it right for their family. We do this by looking at the whole family and what needs to change to enable the child to reach their full potential. We recognise that working in partnership with schools and other support services is key to this. We work with the father to build his skills and confidence in continuing the child’s learning into their home and community.

Us Together impacts on children in many ways but we are increasingly noting influences on educational attainment. One father commented “[The Children and Fathers’] Project has brought us together. It’s just brilliant, especially for the kids. My son’s nursery teacher has even told me that he is now sharing with the other kids and is more co-operative.”Teachers are telling us of improvements in attendance and reductions in late comings, more children having a bedtime story, improvements in literacy and numeracy and in grades. In this video https://vimeo.com/106269504 Lorna Stewart, Head Teacher at Craigroyston Primary in Edinburgh talks about the improvements in father/child relationship and improved relationship with the school.

Stephen Beath, Depute Head Teacher at Graeme High School in Falkirk also recognised how the project helps to improve outcomes of children and young people. The impact and importance of this work could not be higher.  In our setting it was initially about advocacy.  We had not realised we were dealing with a parent who was virtually non-literate. Rather than our ongoing communications about their child being helpful they were a source of considerable anxiety and stress that helped make the situation worse.  When the Children & Fathers Worker was able to share this with us we were able to stop the unhelpful actions and start to build the positive.  The Workers role changed at this point from simple advocacy to mediation.  He was able to work with both father and child to help them understand what the school wanted and how best to support this.  In this situation there has been a huge turnaround in attitude, behaviour and attainment”.

For more information about Us Together please visit www.opfs.org.uk or follow on twitter @OPFSUSTOGETHER

Us Together’s work shows the vital role families can have in children and young people’s education. To support further family engagement and partnership working the Scottish Government commissioned a new web resource to support parents, schools and communities access the very latest Scottish, UK and international research evidence to support effective family engagement strategies. It has a particular focus on engaging with vulnerable families and those living in our more deprived communities, as well as engaging with fathers and looked after children. http://engagingwithfamilies.co.uk/

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Scottish College for Educational Leadership⤴


I’m writing this at the start of my fourth week in post as the first Chief Executive of the newly established Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL). The College is an exciting and innovative development for education in Scotland, and I feel really privileged to have the opportunity to work with the team at SCEL and to lead the organisation as it goes forward.

Teaching Scotland’s Future recommended that a virtual college of school leadership should be developed, recognising that there was a need to improve leadership capacity at all levels in Scottish education. Following an extensive scoping exercise, this ‘virtual’ organisation has now become a reality, with our own office space in Glasgow and a clear plan to drive forward leadership development in Scotland in new and innovative ways.

SCEL will support and drive forward leadership development for teachers at all stages of their careers – focusing on high-quality, sustained professional learning; recognising teachers, early years practitioners and school leaders as increasingly expert practitioners, with their professional practice rooted in strong values, taking responsibility for their own professional learning and development.SCEL Gillian Hamilton

We will be taking forward a series of important, national initiatives including: Teacher Leadership, Middle Leadership, revised routes to Headship qualifications, a HeadStart programme for new Head Teachers, a Fellowship programme for serving Head Teachers and a range of national leadership conferences and events. We also plan to establish a register of experts / specialists – who provide high-quality, sustained professional learning in the area of leadership.

A pilot Fellowship Programme is already underway, led by Isabelle Boyd, Head of Education, Standards and Inclusion at North Lanarkshire Council, and John Daffurn, SCEL’s National Co-ordinator. Eleven high-performing Head Teachers with a proven record of strategic leadership are participating, and their feedback will help us shape the future development of this national programme.  The Fellowship programme provides advanced leadership development opportunities for the participants, including access to coaching support, academic support and contributions from national policy makers. Successful participants will be awarded the Fellowship of SCEL and with their considerable experience, they will continue to contribute to SCEL and to national leadership development.

In Scotland, there is already a national focus on high-quality professional learning. The College will make explicit connections across national policy:  The Framework for Educational Leadership, The Scottish Masters Framework and GTC Scotland’s Professional Standards, where leadership is a permeating theme, and we will work closely with other national organisations and employers  to maintain and enhance teacher professional learning in leadership as an integrated part of educational change.

It’s clear that there’s a lot of work to be done, and I started by describing the establishment of SCEL as exciting and innovative. To succeed, it’s really important that, as an organisation, SCEL works for and with teachers, early years practitioners and school leaders. This will be the first of regular Chief Executive blogs, updating you about our progress, providing you with information about developing programmes and seeking your views on a range of issues. Look out too for our planned regional and national events – we’ll publish details of these on our website, at http://www.scelscotland.org.uk/ You can also tweet us at @teamSCEL.  We’ll look forward to hearing from you!

Gillian Hamilton

Chief Executive

Scottish College for Educational Leadership  

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Vacancy: Improvement Advisors, Scottish Government⤴


Early Years Collaborative.Raising Attainment for All

This is an exciting opportunity for individuals with improvement experience to contribute to our ambition to make Scotland the best place to grow up. Seven Improvement Adviser posts are available on either a secondment basis or on a fixed term appointment basis – three posts to support the Early Years Collaborative (2 years) and four to support the Raising Attainment for All Collaborative (1 year).



The Scottish Government’s Improvement Framework for Scotland’s Public Services provides a structure for reliable implementation of change. You will be responsible for creating the conditions for application of this methodology by helping people make improvements at the point of service delivery.

You will work closely with practitioners in Community Planning Partnerships. You will also be expected to support the development of local capacity and capability for improvement while directly advising on the application of improvement tools in practice.

You should have a sound working knowledge and experience of improvement science methodologies and evidence of formal training in a recognised approach for change implementation. Applications should be in the form of a CV and a supporting statement covering the competencies and experience required and the essential and desirable criteria. Applicants must supply the name and contact details of their line manager and HR contact on their application. In addition, applicants will need to meet Civil Service nationality rules. (If you require further details on this issue contact us using the details below.)

Remuneration and conditions of secondment/ fixed term appointment

For the purposes of a secondment (maximum length 24 months), the successful candidate will continue to be paid by their employer and will remain an employee of their organisation during the period of secondment. The employer (donor) organisation will be expected to invoice the Scottish Government Directorate representative on a quarterly basis to recover salary and on costs during the secondment period.

Starting salary will be in the pay range £44174 – £53121. If the successful applicant’s current salary is within the pay range then they will continue to be paid their current salary. However, if their salary is currently lower than the minimum of this pay range, then the starting salary will be £44174.

For the purposes of a fixed term appointment (maximum length 23 months), salary will be within the range set out above and will be dependent on previous experience.

Applications should be submitted by 11 July 2014 through the Early Years Collaborative mailbox (eycollaborative@scotland.gsi.gov.uk), ensuring the words ‘Improvement Adviser Application’ appear in the subject line. Please make clear which role you are applying for (Early Years or Raising Attainment) and whether it is a secondment or fixed term appointment. If you wish to apply for both roles, you are welcome to do so. We anticipate that interviews will be held during the week beginning 21 July 2014.


  • Leading Others – The role requires strong partnership working and the post holders will need to engage quickly with people at all levels. The post holders must be able to build and sustain relationships and work closely with clients to understand their requirements; will need strong communications skills to be able to persuade others to support and pursue recommendations. The post holders will recognise and be able to cope with the fact that change often involves a degree of uncertainty, particularly where an improvement approach requires new and novel ways of thinking and acting.

  • Improving Performance – The post holders will have excellent applied knowledge and experience of system improvement approaches and change theory. The post holders will also have a good understanding of project management principles and will need to be able to work on a number of projects simultaneously and ensure that deadlines are met. As an improvement adviser, the individual will need to ‘hit the ground running’ and be quick to identify and engage with the key stakeholders, internal and external. The post holders will need to be able to spot cross-cutting connections between issues and areas, negotiating opportunities to bring together multi-disciplinary and multi-agency teams where appropriate.

  • Analysis and Use of Evidence – The post holders will be able to use different types of improvement data to diagnose problems and evaluate success. The post holders will have experience of collecting and communicating data linked to the measurement of an improvement process. Delivering measurable improvements within a complex system means the post holders will be able to support change in the midst of ambiguity and conflicting evidence with regards to appropriate ways forward. It is also important that the post holders contribute to the review and evaluation of developments, emergent thinking and evidence base in improvement and change to ensure that the team’s work reflects current thinking.

  • Communications and Engagement – The post holders will frequently and consistently have to secure broad stakeholder agreement to the improvement approach and methodology. This will include working with senior managers and other key opinion formers across agencies to enable full engagement and commitment in the use of improvement techniques within different contexts. This will be facilitated by the presentation of complex information clearly and concisely. The post holders will frequently be called upon to facilitate group activity and discussion in a way that creates opportunities to generate new thinking. This includes designing, running and facilitating meetings/workshops/events to build improvement capacity and support learning.

Essential Criteria

We are looking for people who have

  • an applied knowledge and experience of improvement and change with a strong commitment to continuous professional development. The post holders will need to be able to demonstrate sound policy and/or operation skills, with significant experience in delivery.

  • expertise in improvement science with a clear grasp of concepts and experience of their practical application.

  • evidence of ongoing learning & professional development in change and improvement with a strong, wide network of professional contacts (Eg. Improvement Advisor Professional Development programme)

  • an ability and desire to work as part of a team: listening and learning from others regardless of hierarchies; sharing ideas, engaging in open and honest debate; and adapting plans, direction and focus of projects based on relevant information and knowledge.

And people who are

  • Self-aware and authentic: understand and can articulate own strengths, motivations, needs and limitations. They can engage in open and honest discussions of own performance and can use feedback constructively to drive improvement.
  • Comfortable with a range of data collection, analysis and communication methods and techniques and using evidence to drive improvement, performance and change.

Desirable Criteria

We are looking for people who have

  • experience of working flexibly across a number of priorities and areas of responsibility.
  • experience of working creatively with partners to develop ideas and solutions to deliver change and improvement in a range of areas.
  • knowledge and experience of applying programme and project management principles in different contexts.

And who

  • Regularly work on subjects and issues ‘out of their comfort zone’ and quickly navigate a range of data, analysis and evidence.
  • Hold a formal qualification in an aspect of improvement science (eg, a post-graduate masters in management, systems improvement, Improvement Advisor Professional Development Programme)


Karen’s Reflections⤴


As another month draws to a close I have been reflecting on our last four weeks.

Following on from the Creative Maths session held in November we were able to invite our primary probationers along to a further session on Friday 31st January.  Mrs Maths (Hazel) engaged us in some deep and creative thinking about how we approach teaching and learning for numeracy and maths.

We tried out Mathticulate, a timed challenge game.  We had to give clues to the challenger without saying the actual word!



Thinking about ‘Think, Make, Do, Say’ we were challenged to make up cards showing mathematical words and symbols.  As a group we made up cards, and then we swapped with another group.   The nominated person in the group was then responsible using Play-Doh to re-create the word or symbol.  The others in the group had to say what they thought it represented.


Mrs Maths introduced her ITZAmazing Maths Set 1 resource.  We started with number bonds, worked through fractions, 2D and 3D shapes.  We all agreed that this was an amazing resource which had endless possibilities for being creative with maths.

foam shapes

Samantha McGregor, our Arts Development Officer, has secured sets of this resource and they will be available soon to book out for use in schools.

Looking at Raising attainment through school improvement our primary and secondary probationers had an opportunity to discuss approaches to raising attainment in their schools and to share good practices.  We discussed the new Raising Attainment Document and explored the classroom level attributes of success.  This work will also help probationers prepare for interviews.

With report writing approaching in our primary schools our primary probationers got the chance to look at the report format and had an opportunity to create a mock report to help prepare them for the real thing.  Some probationers had already started writing their reports and shared their experiences so far.

Next up for probationers will be Career Review and Development on Friday 7th March for primary probationers and Tuesday 11th March for secondary probationers.  Both sessions run from 9.15 am – 3.15 pm.







Alex Horne blog – National Care Leavers’ Week, The First Decade⤴


Alex Horne 178 x 201The story you’re about to read isn’t uncommon with young people that came from care. Many of my friends from care have had the same experiences. I’m telling it because I want you to make sure that there is a change for people in and about to go through the care system. A change in our education outcomes. In our job chances. And in how Scotland sees us.

My name is Alex. My life has included a lot of difficulty. Issues with education, multiple homeless placements, getting a job. But it has hope and shows what people in care can achieve, when supported and championed.

At 15 years old, I was in residential child care and at a residential school. I had received my exam results and, like so many other 15 year olds across Scotland, I wanted to continue my education up to 6th year. My school, however, couldn’t offer me a place.

In fact, the school was closing down. I was told that I was moving back home with my mum who I did not get on with at the time. Then I was told that we were moving from Aberdeen, where I stayed for most of my life, to South Ayrshire. After moving to South Ayrshire it was clear the problems between me and my mum had not gone away. I stayed with her for just over 1 ½ years before we had an argument and I was forced to go homeless.

I think looking back on what happened with my school a solution would have been to know before the school closed down, because it would have given me time to look at other options regarding higher education.

I presented as homeless aged 17 but was told because I left care before school leaving age and my 16th birthday, I wasn’t considered a care leaver. Bed and breakfast accommodation and supported lodgings were next for me until “suitable” accommodation became available. I was homeless – looking for somewhere to call home. Instead, I was offered accommodation and people talked to me about housing stock issues.

I think anyone reading this would see that it wasn’t the best idea for me to return home because nothing was going to get better, because my mum failed to see that she had a part to play in the problems.

The solution would have been to return to care at this point. Instead, I was homeless. There is no such service available to care leavers. Maybe that’s why so many of us experience homelessness.

After leaving homeless accommodation, I was moved into an area that was highly deprived. I started working, I started a family and I was getting ready to study an NC higher Social Care course. Education was always on my mind and things were looking up.
But I then ran into problems.

First; my bursary. I was told I couldn’t get funding because I didn’t have appropriate I.D. But why would I have ID like a passport as I didn’t ever go on holiday. This could have been sorted years before if all children and young people in care get a passport even if there is no intention in going abroad it would a young person an identity.

I started to struggle with the course work. I think a lot now about the reasons why I didn’t ask for help at college, even though I knew it was on offer.

I then stopped going to class and after 7 weeks, I dropped out because I fell so far behind. I told my friends and colleagues everything was fine. They thought I was at college when really I was in my house, hiding away. Maybe if I had parents that were interested in my education, they would have been “pushy”. Solution would have been for college to have extra support in place for me, helping me talk about my issues earlier.

My education was another victim of my circumstances. It wasn’t that I couldn’t learn. It was my ability to sustain a place that caused issues. Looking back, I should have got the help I needed – but I struggled to ask for it, as I felt I always needed help.

Things changed when relationships changed. When I eventually told someone that I had dropped out of college, their reaction wasn’t the disappointed or anger that I expected. In fact it was the opposite. People rallied round and asked what more they could have done. They showed me, for the first time, that my ambitions shouldn’t be restricted by my circumstances. I started aspiring to be something that I wanted to be, not what I was told I could only ever be.

The solution is to make sure that everyone in and out of care has someone they can talk to, but more importantly that person needs to earn they young person’s trust and fight their corner. They even need to motivate the young person even when they think there is no hope.

I am now working for Who Cares? Scotland as a Campaign and Training assistant. I share my experience with heads of service, elected members and I influence different organisations and corporate parents. I have been doing this for 3 years and I’m now doing an SVQ 3 in Children and Young People. I want to work in residential child care where I grew up because I want to make a difference to the sector that didn’t give me the best experience.

Young people need us to have aspirations for them. I know I will be a success in my life, but I want all young people from care to feel that way too.

I want them to get good highers, to go to uni, to get a job and to be happy while they do it. And I want them to feel like they will always have a place at home if things go wrong.

All young people are different but their aspirations shouldn’t depend on their circumstances. I will do everything I can do help get that for these young people. We all have a role to play.

National Care Leavers’ Week (24-30 October 2013)

National Care Leavers Week is about highlighting the needs of care leavers and encouraging those responsible for looking after them to work in a co-ordinated and effective way.  The theme of this year’s event is ‘The First Decade’ and focuses on the journey of a young person leaving care to becoming firmly established in their adult lives.

Alex Horne

Care Leaver, 20 Years Old 

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Significant milestone reached with less than a year to go⤴


Do not become cynical or dispirited. As long as there are children to educate, our mission remains unaccomplished.’

colin sutherland nbhs photo 178 x 133These inspirational words of Dr. Avis Glaze have been ringing in my ears ever since she received the Robert Owen Award at the Scottish Learning Festival. What a challenge to all educators, and what a privilege!

It’s certainly been a busy time since I last blogged in June. And very exciting too as local authorities and secondary schools now have access to early prototype editions of the Senior Phase Benchmarking Tool. As I reflect on all that’s happened over the past few months and what’s still to be accomplished, the Tool going live in August 2014 doesn’t seem that far away.

It was a proud moment when the Preview Edition was released at the Scottish Learning Festival with the Cabinet Secretary announcing the news in his keynote speech. Eileen Gill, Project Manager, and I followed with a seminar giving eighty plus delegates a first glimpse of our new prototype. What struck me was the amount of enthusiasm for the Tool and discussion around how it can help bring about improvements for pupils in the senior phase. There were many questions after the seminar including from TESS whose article and editorial reiterated how the Tool will play a role in emphasising the importance of wider achievement.

We’ve always said that we are developing the Tool in consultation with stakeholders. Our Teacher Reference Groups and local authority visits have been crucial in getting ideas and feedback. It was also pleasing to see so many local authorities sign up to testing the Early Adopter edition in July. Now the Preview Edition has been released, this is an opportunity for local authorities and secondary schools to see how the Tool provides data on curricular areas, subjects and courses, as well as the four national measures. Although just test data is provided in these early prototypes it is a good chance to see what’s coming in August 2014!

You can find out about what is included in the Preview Edition and other information about the project at www.scotland.gov.uk/seniorphasebenchmarking

In my next blog at the end of October, I will talk in more detail about the feedback received, the virtual comparator methodology and generally what folk have been saying to me on my visits.


Colin Sutherland

Professional Advisor

Senior Phase Benchmarking Tool

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Jackie Brock blog – Behind the headlines⤴


rsz_dsc00374Recently, Scotland’s Chief Statistician released figures on the educational attainment and post school destinations of looked after children in Scotland. The results didn’t receive a great deal of media attention but those that did cover it applauded the figures which suggest the attainment gap for looked after children is narrowing and that those entering positive destinations post school is up 11 percentage points (from 64% to 75%) on the previous year.

This is of course welcome news. It is encouraging to see that the work of the children’s sector , including our schools, social work services, carers and others, who are working with our vulnerable children, particularly those who are looked after away from home, to support them throughout their educational journey, has made a significant impact.

However, whilst the gap is narrowing, none of us can be satisfied that it is narrowing fast enough. We must take into account the underlying statistics that care leavers still persistently score lower than their non-looked after peers, leave school younger and have fewer positive destinations and that there are clear issues around attendance and exclusions with significantly lower and higher figures, respectively.

We, as a sector and as a country, need to be asking ourselves some questions. How – for example – can we work with children, parents, carers and others in the sector to better the experiences and outcomes for these looked after children? What can we do to engage with them better to improve the choices and chances of this vulnerable and at risk group? Ultimately, how do we ensure looked after children have the same opportunities and chances as our own children?

The Scottish Government is trying to address the problem at both ends. With the highest demographic of looked after children now being the under 5s, the early years and preventative spend agendas which is such a large focus will, we hope, ensure that all youngsters – looked after or not – are supported in the early years. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill makes a number of provisions for early years education and care which we know are crucial in laying the foundations for their knowledge, skills, and social development. An investment in these early stages is an investment in the future of every child in our care.

At the other end of the scale, the Bill also proposes that the local authority must assess a care leaver’s eligible needs and potentially provide assistance up until their 26th birthday. The vast majority of parents would not consider carrying out an assessment of eligibility on their own children so is it really acceptable to put these pre-conditions on our care leavers? Children in Scotland’s members will be welcoming the offer of additional support, which could make a difference to sustaining positive destinations, but without additional bureaucratic barriers being imposed on the corporate parenting role.

We hope the forthcoming report of the Inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee on improving outcomes of looked after children at home, will also identify improvements in support. What is undoubtedly true is that the commitment, collaboration and cooperation across the children’s sector is working. There is also evidence to suggest that listening to the young people themselves is helping identify the differences, which matter. Those who have been through the care system, or are experiencing it now, can accurately and confidently identify what will work, and what won’t. There is some fantastic work going on in terms of engagement, particularly through Who Cares? Scotland’s Just Listen campaign and pledge, which we urge you to support and encourage in order to see real change and more positive outcomes for our looked after young people.

Jackie Brock is the Chief Executive of national children’s charity and members organisation, Children in Scotland. http://www.childreninscotland.org.uk/

For more information on Who Cares? Scotland campaign work, visit http://www.whocaresscotland.org/

Jackie Brock

Chief Executive, Children in Scotland

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