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Highland Council ranks worst in Scotland for literacy and numeracy for pupils in P1, P4 and P7

By Scott Maclennan

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Highland Council ranks worst in Scotland for literacy and numeracy in P1, P4 and P7.

The figures are based on Statutory Performance Indicators, Benchmarking and Best Value 2020/21, which was discussed at the latest full meeting of the local authority.

Official figures state that the percentage of P1/4/7 pupils achieving in literacy and in numeracy places the council at 32nd out of 32 local authorities in Scotland.

That is despite investment per primary pupil ranking the council at 20th in the country – a fall of six places from last year.

While council bosses blame the impact of Covid and praise staff for the job they did over the pandemic they say much work is ongoing to improve attainment.

Education committee chairman John Finlayson has defended performance.
Education committee chairman John Finlayson has defended performance.

Chairman of the education committee John Finlayson said that work is under way to improve the attainment figures alongside Education Scotland.

He said this includes “collaborative engagement, support and challenge” for primary schools with “standardised attainment meetings” and an action plan based on this engagement.

“The absence of external assessment information during 2020 and 2021 led to grades awarded being based on teacher estimates,” said Councillor Finlayson.

“These results are therefore not directly comparable with previous and future years, and any change in attainment levels during this time should not be seen as an indication that performance has improved or worsened without further evidence."

He added that more than half of Scottish local authorities including five out of seven in the so-called family of similar rural councils fall below the national average 'in terms of indicators being reported'.

He concluded: “The reality is that we recognise the need to really focus on attainment as we move out of Covid and the education service is working with schools on plans to do this.”

Council chief executive Donna Manson said: “In many ways the council has achieved sustainability and connectedness through the soft skills of the Highland people including our staff and yet there is none of that in the national indicators that we work to.

“The significant impact of the pandemic on service delivery means that the performance targets agreed in the 2017-22 Corporate Plan will need to be reviewed later this year as part of a performance recovery plan.”

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