Education - National Improvement Framework - A consultation on enhanced data collection for improvement

Page 1 of 5

Closes 18 Jul 2022


1. Our proposals for the key measures of progress towards closing the poverty related attainment gap are based on a number of key principles. Are there any other principles that should be included?

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As mentioned above, our proposals for the key measures of progress towards closing the poverty related attainment gap are based on a number of key principles shown below:

  • we are looking at the difference in attainment between those children and young people from SIMD quintiles 1 and 5. However, we recognise the importance of increasing attainment for all children and are therefore proposing to recalibrate the national stretch aims for all 5 SIMD quintiles
  • focusing on a single measure is neither helpful or meaningful and would provide a false and limited picture
  • measures and milestones should be relatively simple to measure and report against
  • there needs to be a clear line of sight from the agreed measures and milestones to the key priorities set out in the National Improvement Framework, including the need to place the human rights and needs of every child and young person at the centre of education
  • there also needs to be a clear line of sight from the key measures in the NIF, to the strategies and approaches adopted in schools, and local authorities, to improve outcomes for children and young people
  • the focus should be across the age ranges – from 3-18
  • they should be a credible set of measures – understood to fairly reflect progress in closing the poverty related attainment gap
  • the need to avoid perverse incentives through whatever milestones or stretch aims are set.

The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation is a relative measure of deprivation across 6,976 small areas (called data zones). If an area is identified as ‘deprived’, this can relate to people having a low income but it can also mean fewer resources or opportunities. SIMD looks at the extent to which an area is deprived across seven domains: income, employment, education, health, access to services, crime and housing. More information on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation quintiles (SIMD) can be found here

Stretch aims for improvement purposes are specifically focussed on the improvement which a system needs to make in order to reach a particular goal (i.e. closing the attainment gap) – they do not generally articulate the goal itself, although achieving the aims would also mean significant steps towards achieving the goal. 

You can find the existing key measures and sub-measures on page three of the consultation paper. The principles can also be found on page seven of the consultation paper.


2. Should the two sub-measures covering attendance and exclusion at secondary schools be promoted to key measures?

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There are currently four sub-measures covering attendance and exclusion in both primary and secondary schools, and there is a clear pattern of higher exclusion rates and lower attendance for children living in the most deprived areas.  This is particularly the case at secondary school and prompts the question about whether to promote the two secondary school sub-measures. If children are not at school, then it is far more difficult to take the steps necessary to close the attainment gap.

The full list of key measures and sub-measures are on page three of the consultation paper. 

3. Should data on confidence, resilience, and engagement from the new Health and Wellbeing census be included in the basket of measures?

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In terms of health and wellbeing, three of the existing key measures already cover the social, emotional, and behavioural development of children and young people, and four of the fifteen sub-measures cover mental wellbeing.  However, there will be data collected from the Health and Wellbeing Census which will be included as part of the indicator of educational attainment in the National Performance Framework

These are:

  • Confidence of children and young people
  • Resilience of children and young people
  • Engagement in extra-curricular activities

The full list of key measures and sub-measures are on page three of the consultation paper.

4. At the moment, the measure of achievement in the senior phase is the National Qualifications achieved by young people at the point which they leave school (SCQF levels 4, 5, and 6 – 1 or more on leaving school). Do we need to add other measures to cover wider achievement and attainment?
5. If you answered yes to Q4, in the "more information" box below, we have set out two options for consideration. However, we would also welcome any other suggestions for additional measures.

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Option 1

In response to feedback from users, and to improve the evidence base on the attainment of broader achievements and skills as part of the Curriculum for Excellence, a new ‘all SQA qualifications’ measure has been developed which includes National Qualifications (National Courses, Skills for Work) and other SQA qualifications (Customised Awards, Higher National, National – Workplace, National Certificates, National Progression Awards, Professional Development Awards, Scottish Vocational Qualifications, Ungraded National Courses). Details can be found in section 6.3 of the School Leaver Attainment and Initial Destinations publication. The ‘all SQA qualification’ measure details the proportion of school leavers who attained a number of passes (e.g. 1 pass or more, 2 passes or more etc.) at a given SCQF level or better across all of the qualifications outlined above. One or more combination(s) of passes and SCQF levels could potentially be used.

These statistics are currently labelled as Experimental Statistics, reflecting that they are undergoing development and subject to revision based on informed feedback from users. 

Option 2

A measure of attainment in vocational qualifications. Section 6.1 of the School Leaver Attainment and Initial Destinations publication contains a measure covering only ‘vocational’ qualifications. Unlike the existing NIF key measures on school leaver attainment and the ‘all SQA qualifications’ measure outlined above, this measure does not include attainment in National Qualifications but focuses on vocational qualifications. Specifically, the measure includes National Certificates, Higher National Qualifications, Scottish Vocational Qualifications, National Progression Awards and Skills for Work. It shows the proportion of school leavers with one pass or more at a given SCQF level. The proportion of school leavers with one pass or more at SCQF level 5 or better is used as a Key Performance Indicator for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce.

6. In terms of measuring progress beyond school, should the percentage of school leavers going to a “positive destination” on leaving school be included alongside the participation measure?

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Positive destinations for young people leaving school include:

  • Higher Education
  • Further Education
  • Employment
  • Training
  • Voluntary work
  • Personal skills development

Whilst other destinations include unemployed and seeking work, unemployed and not seeking work and unknown.

These provide valuable information on the activities being undertaken by school leavers. However, they are based on a snapshot of the activity being undertaken by school leavers on a given day and are not the best indicator of long term sustained success for young people accessing future work or study. 

That is why the indicator we have used previously is the Skills Development Scotland Annual Participation Measure, which reports on the wider activity of the 16-19 cohort, including those still at school. This is an indicator of school success in preparing young people for access to future work or study.

7. What more do we need to do in order to ensure that a wider range of measures are in use across the education system, and that they are valued as equally as traditional attainment measures?

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We need to consider the value of the wider data (beyond the key measures which have a specific role in measuring the attainment gap) both qualitative and quantitative data (both of which are included in the National Improvement Framework) and the range of evidence needed by schools, education authorities and at the national level in order to fulfil their different requirements.

8. Are the existing wider data collections, and the new data developments enough to ensure that the National Improvement Framework reflects the ambitions of Curriculum for Excellence, national policy priorities such as health and wellbeing and confidence, and key priorities for COVID-19 recovery and improvement, as recommended by Audit Scotland?

More information

You can find more detail on the existing wider data collections at Annex A (pages eleven - thirteen) of the consultation paper. 

Below are some links to information/reports on:

Curriculum for Excellence

Education Recovery: Key Actions and Next Steps - The contribution of education to Scotland's COVID Recovery

Audit Scotland: Improving outcomes for young people through school education




9. How can we make better use of data to focus and drive improvement activity at school, local, regional and national level?

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Improvement activity is any activity that is undertaken to deliver the priorities set out in the National Improvement Framework.

10. How can we make better use of data to help reduce variation in outcomes achieved by young people in different parts of the country?

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The current variation in the level of improvement identified by Audit Scotland demonstrates that we need to do more to understand what works to drive improvement across all parts of the education system.