Scottish schools above international averages, says OECD


Attainment in Scottish schools has been rated as above international averages in a review from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The review was commissioned by the Scottish government to evaluate the direction of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and its emerging impacts on the quality of Scottish schooling.

The CfE has been operating since 2010 and gives teachers more flexibility over what and how they teach. The OECD said that there was ‘much to be positive about’, including: levels of reading and science above international averages; a high level of social inclusion; a drop in teenage smoking and alcohol consumption; and a large majority (nine in ten) of students who feel positive about their school and teachers.

The review also offered a number of key recommendations on how Scotland can develop the CfE into a ‘world class system’. These include: commissioning an independent evaluation of how CfE is being implemented ‘on the ground’; improving the quality of information available on the aspects of CfE that matter, not those that are most ‘readily measurable’; simplifying and clarifying core guidance on the CfE; giving local authorities a more central role in implementing the curriculum; and creating ‘stimulating and challenging learning environments’ in secondary schools in areas of deprivation.

Responding to the report, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, said: “We broadly accept the report’s 12 recommendations as complementary to the work we are already doing through the National Improvement Framework and the Scottish Attainment Challenge. We will now lead the work with our partners in Scottish education to take forward these recommendations for the benefit of all of Scotland’s children.”

Montserrat Gomendio, deputy director of education and skills at the OECD, said: “We applaud Scotland for having the foresight and patience to put such an ambitious reform as Curriculum for Excellence in place; we hope that our OECD review will help ensure that it will live up to its full potential and realise excellence and equity right across Scotland.”  

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