Scottish Pupils Falling Behind In Reading Improvements, Study Claims

24 July 2017, 13:30 | Updated: 24 July 2017, 13:31

reading a book

Scottish pupils are lagging behind other UK nations when it comes to improvements in reading, a new study has indicated.

Students in Northern Ireland led the way ahead of England, with Scotland and Wales following behind.

Scottish Labour said the findings represented another ''disappointing report'' on literacy north of the border.

It comes after Scotland's schools recorded their worst-ever performance in an international survey of pupils published last year.

Scores for maths, reading and science all declined in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) figures.

The latest research, conducted by Keith Topping, professor of education at the University of Dundee, covers about 850,000 pupils across the UK in schools which use Renaissance's literacy assessment tools.

The results were calculated by ranking student improvement from 1 to 100, with an average improvement score of 50.

It looked at the average improvement made by pupils in each UK home nation on reading tests from the beginning of the year to the end.

Prof Topping said more investigation was needed into why Scotland had recorded ''relatively low'' reading performance.

Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: ''What is most damning in this report is that for all Nicola Sturgeon's claims that education is her 'defining mission', we are trailing behind other parts of the UK in addressing the issue.

''This is the legacy of a government which claims to care about schools, but has cut teacher numbers by 4,000 and continues to cut spending on each pupil's education.''

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: ''This government is already taking action to provide teachers and schools with the tools and resources they need to improve literacy.

''As well as clarity about the standards expected in our classrooms and fully embedding literacy skills across the curriculum, we are providing £750 million over the lifetime of this parliament, through the Scottish Attainment Challenge, targeted at those children and young people most in need, to close the poverty-related attainment gap. This includes £120 million going directly to head teachers this year alone.

''We have also set out how we will further empower schools and teachers to make improvements for Scotland's young people.

''In addition, the First Minister's Reading Challenge, a dedicated programme to encourage a love of reading amongst Scotland's young people, has proven hugely successful, with over 75% of local authority schools in Scotland signing up in the first year alone.''