Education statistics briefing
Reform Scotland says “ONS for schools” needed before more major policy change
Reform Scotland today calls for the creation of an independent body similar to the Office for National Statistics to oversee the collection and analysis of data from Scotland’s schools.
The think tank’s Commission on School Reform has argued that “we know less now about the performance of Scotland’s schools than at any time since the 1950s”. In the digital age there is no justification for the failure to gather and analyse the broadest and deepest levels of data. This would provide a clearer and more honest view of the performance of our education system and better inform policy development.
In addition to establishing this ONS-style body, the think tank also argues that Scotland should immediately rejoin the international TIMSS and PIRLS studies to ascertain how Scotland is performing in comparison to other countries, and to enable us to learn more lessons.
Reform Scotland has also published an accompanying statistical analysis covering the last 20 years, which contains a number of revelations, including:
- There has been a huge drop in the number of pupils sitting eight exams, falling from 38,467 pupils entered for eight standard grades in 2000 to 3,441 entered for 8 Nat 5s in 2019. The number of pupils gaining 8 credit standard grades or Nat 5 awards fell from 7,826 in 2000 to 2,809 in 2019.
- There is a big gap in attainment between the state and independent sectors. In 2019 the average number of National 5 entries per learner in S4 in the state sector was 5, with an average of 4.4 awards. For the independent sector it was 7, and 6.8 awards
- The Logan review highlighted the importance of education in developing the necessary skills for a Scottish technology ecosystem. It is therefore worth noting the decline in Computing exam entries at both National 5 and Higher levels. Nat 5 candidates fell from 7,926 candidates (9.5% of all) in 2016 to 6,344 (7.9%) in 2019. At Higher level computing candidates have fallen from 4,454 (6.5%) in 2016 to 3,228 (5.1%) in 2019.