'Much To Do' To Improve Numeracy

New Education Secretary John Swinney has acknowledged he has much to do to improve schooling amid new figures showing the proportion of primary pupils with a good grasp of numbers has fallen again.

Mr Swinney said the drop in performance in numeracy "reinforces the need to improve attainment and to close the gap between the performance of young people from different backgrounds in Scotland's schools''.

The Deputy First Minister's shift from finance to education was hailed a signal of intent by Nicola Sturgeon of her commitment to improvement.

Mr Swinney said: "We have much to do to ensure our young people are supported to improve their understanding and use of numeracy, and our teachers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and confidence to drive up standards in this area.

"We have introduced several measures since numeracy statistics were last published in 2014 as part of our firm commitment to address the attainment gap.''

The proportion of P4 pupils that performed well or very well decreased between 2011 and 2013, and again, slightly, between 2013 and 2015, the survey shows.

At P7, performance stabilised between 2013 and 2015 after an initial fall between 2011 and 2013.

S2 performance remained the same across all three survey years.

Boys outperformed girls in numeracy at S2 whereas there was no difference in the proportion of boys and girls performing well or very well at either P4 or P7.

Pupils from affluent areas demonstrated stronger performance compared to poorer pupils in numeracy at all stages.

Mr Swinney added: "Last week the First Minister confirmed we will host a major summit on school education and bring forward a delivery plan to improve Scottish education.

"I have also announced a series of actions to address teacher workloads and remain committed to taking further measures to tackle this issue.

"All of this will support our priority ambition to raise attainment and drive forward improvements in our schools.

"Today's numeracy survey was conducted in 2015 and does not measure the impact of the more recent actions we have taken.

"It does show that the majority of pupils across all stages enjoy working with numbers, building on the OECD's findings that in Scotland, 'learners are enthusiastic and motivated, teachers are engaged and professional and system leaders are highly committed'.

"I am determined to capitalise on this through continued robust action to ensure that every child in Scotland has the opportunity to reach their full potential.''

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