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15/12/15 13:26

OECD review of Scottish education

First Minister welcomes publication and accepts scope of recommendations.

An international expert review group has declared that Scotland has the opportunity to be a “world leader” in developing a new approach to assessment and evaluation in schools.

The review, commissioned by the Scottish Government into Scotland’s education system, also supports the Government’s decision to introduce a National Improvement Framework, incorporating standardised assessment, to develop a ‘robust evidence base’ to show how children are progressing.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance responded jointly to the report following its launch by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) at Craigmount High School in Edinburgh.

Informed by a delegation visit to Scotland earlier this year to gather evidence, the OECD’s report noted a series of positive developments in Scottish education, including:

  • levels of academic achievement are above international averages and distributed evenly
  • Scottish schools are highly inclusive
  • a clear upward trend in attainment and positive destinations
  • positive attitudes in schools and among pupils
  • noticeable drops in alcohol consumption and smoking among children and young people

As well as noting the role of Curriculum for Excellence as “an important reform to put in place a coherent 3-18 curriculum”, the report also sets out a number of challenges facing Scottish education and makes 12 recommendations for action to improve Scotland’s education system, across areas such as leadership in schools, issues presented by existing data sources and complexities around Curriculum for Excellence.

The First Minister said:

“There is much positive praise in this report for what is being delivered for our children in Scottish schools and for the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence. However, the report also highlights challenges and reinforces the Scottish Government's determination to focus on achieving excellence and equity within our education system. I am particularly pleased that the OECD supports our decision to develop and implement a National Improvement Framework.

“We share their view that we have a great opportunity to lead the world in developing an integrated assessment and evaluation framework. I firmly believe the Framework will play an important role in driving work to close the attainment gap and continually improve Scottish education.

“While there are many successes in Scottish education, including excellent teaching, record Higher and Advanced Higher results and more than nine in ten school-leavers securing jobs, training or continued education, we need to do more to ensure that our education system delivers for every child in Scotland.

“This Government is ambitious about delivering a world class education system that meets the needs of our young people and Scotland’s future. 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, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills, 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.”

Notes to editors

‘Improving Schools in Scotland: An OECD Perspective’ can be accessed here: