Literacy in Scotland: Improving Results and Closing the Attainment Gap

The event

Improved literacy is one of the foundational pillars of the Scottish Government’s Attainment Challenge aimed at reducing the socio-economic attainment gap. However, the most recent Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy revealed that literacy rates have been falling for the past four years.

Join Holyrood as we look at key areas for improvement. This event will examine the diverse points at which literacy can be nurtured and embedded within a pupil’s world: looking at the role of schools, libraries, culture, and the family home. Further sessions will also look at key areas for improvement as well as sharing good practice. The ability to read and write is a right that no child or young person in Scotland should be denied; let’s keep it from impacting their life chances.

Key issues to be addressed

  • The recent decline in literacy rates
  • The attainment gap – the relationship between literacy and life chances
  • The place of literacy in the Curriculum for Excellence
  • Modern learning – Incorporating digital reading into the classroom to boost literacy
  • Reading beyond books – alternative approaches to literacy

Literacy rates are falling

Education continues to be a priority for the Scottish Government, with success pinned to literacy and numeracy as foundational skills for future success. This focus has led to ambitious reforms across the education sector, aimed at improving the potential of all children and young people but especially for those from the least affluent backgrounds. However, there continues to be an attainment gap – where those from lower socio-economic communities underperform compared to their peers.

Since 2012, there has been a seven-point decline in P7 students who can write well or very well and reading standards have also declined. The findings are even more striking when looking at the attainment gap. Despite the introduction of flagship reforms such as Curriculum for Excellence and the Scottish Attainment Challenge, there continues to be a 20-point difference between the results for pupils from most and least deprived areas in P7 for writing.

With key initiatives and funding announced to boost the levels of literacy and close the attainment gap – from £1 million in funding announced for school libraries and the First Minister’s Reading Challenge, to the £120 million Pupil Equity Fund – it is time to look at what is working both in and outwith the classroom.


9:15 Registration and Refreshments

9:55 Welcome and Introduction from the Chair

Jason Vit, Head of Literacy Hubs, National Literacy Trust

10:00 Session 1: The Literacy Challenge

  • The recent decline in literacy rates
  • The attainment gap – the relationship between literacy and life chances
  • Literacy as an education priority

10:00 Literacy in Scotland: How can research inform practice?

Dr Sarah McGeown, Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology, University of Edinburgh and Deputy Head of Institute, Institute for Education

10:20 Literacy: A matter of life and death

  • The impact of literacy on life expectancy
  • How we can reframe the discussion about literacy to engage more partners and organisations 

Jason Vit, Head of Literacy Hubs, National Literacy Trust

10:40 Questions and Discussion

11:00 Refreshment Break

11:30 Session 2: The Role of the School

  • The role of teachers in raising literacy levels
  • The place of literacy in the Curriculum for Excellence
  • Key initiatives and priorities for literacy attainment
  • Modern learning – incorporating digital reading into the classroom to boost literacy
  • Making reading a pleasure

11:30 'Early Level Literacy: building sound foundations or teaching to the test?

Sue Palmer, Independent Education Consultant and Chair, Upstart Scotland

12:00 The Role of School Libraries: Reading for Pleasure and Raising Attainment

  • How reading for pleasure can increase pupil’s attainment across the curriculum. Showcasing some examples of the amazing work going on in Scottish School Libraries

Lee-Anne Connor, School Library Resource Centre Manager, Chryston High School and Chair, School Libraries Group, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS)

12:20 Building A Reading Culture

  • Read, Write, Count and First Minister’s Reading Challenge in schools
  • Building a Reading culture in your school

Antonia Clark, Attainment Programmes Manager, Scottish Book Trust

12:40 Questions and Discussion

13:00 Lunch and Networking

13:30 Session 3: Beyond the School

  • A holistic approach to boosting literacy levels
  • The role of parents in building a relationship with words
  • Reading beyond books – alternative approaches to literacy
  • Good practice and sharing learning around what works

13:30 A Community Approach to Early Literacy

  • The role of relationships in developing a community approach to literacy
  • Our Family Support at Home programme
  • Our Talking Together Programme

Kara Whelan, Project Manager, Craigmillar Books for Babies and Michelle Jones, Development Worker, Craigmillar Books for Babies

13:50 The Iris Project, Improving Literacy Through Latin

Alison Greer, Literacy Through Latin Project Coordinator, University of Glasgow and Elizabeth Norton, Languages Development Officer, Glasgow City Council

14:10 Literacies beyond the school: what works for adults?

Professor Lyn Tett, Professor Emeritus, Institute for Education, Community and Society (IECS), University of Edinburgh

14:30 Questions and Discussion

14:55 Chair’s Closing Remarks

15:00 Close of Event

*Agenda subject to change


NASUWT, 35 Young Street North Lane, Edinburgh EH2 4JD | Map


Delegate rates (excluding VAT):
  • Discounted rate: £145 (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: 1 place £245 | 2+ places £195 (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: 1 place £295 | 2+ places £245 (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)
For more information please email or phone 0131 285 1635
22 March 2018
United Kingdom



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