Literacy among school pupils continues to fall, reveals SSLN scores

Written by Tom Freeman on 9 May 2017 in News

Big drop in writing skills in S2 pupils among latest Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy figures

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The standard of reading and writing in primary schools has dropped since 2012, according to latest literacy results from the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN).

The sample survey results, published by Scotland’s chief statistician, adds more pressure on the Scottish Government after continued decline has persisted in both literacy and numeracy.

The 2016 survey of 10,000 pupils shows the number of P4 pupils performing well or very well at reading had fallen from 78 per cent to 77 per cent since 2014, stayed the same at 88 per cent for P7 pupils and risen 2 points to 82 for S2 pupils.

However, all three were down on the 2012 levels.


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There were more significant falls in levels of writing skills, especially in S2 where only 49 per cent of pupils performed well or very well. This is down from 64 per cent in 2012 and 55 per cent in 2014.

The figures also show no progress in attempts to close the gap between the performance of pupils in the most and least deprived areas of the country.

Education Secretary John Swinney said the results were “simply not good enough” and insisted reforms like the Scottish Attainment Challenge were not “an overnight solution” to the problem.

“Further reform is now imperative,” he said.

Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said the figures were “yet another set of worrying SSLN statistics on basic literacy.

“The rise in percentage of pupils who are functionally illiterate [between] 2012-16 is shameful,” she said.

Scottish Labour's Education spokesperson Iain Gray MSP said the figures were the legacy of cuts in spending on schools under the SNP.

“For John Swinney to suggest that the answer is centralising school budgets is ridiculous.  The answer is to stop the SNP’s cuts to schools," he said

Meanwhile girls continue to outperform boys, according to the results.

The SSLN records literacy and numeracy on alternate years. Last year’s survey showed a drop in numeracy rates.

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