Literacy Action Plan - Interim Progress Report September 2012

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Section 3: Key Developments on the Journey

Early Years & Family Literacies

"The OECD is pleased to present its report, Let's Read Them a Story! The Parent Factor in Education. The report examines whether and how parents' involvement is related to their child's proficiency in and enjoyment of reading - and it also offers comfort to parents who are concerned that they don't have enough time or the requisite academic knowledge to help their children succeed in school. Many types of parental involvement that are associated with better student performance in PISA3 require relatively little time and no specialised knowledge. What counts is genuine interest and active engagement."

(Michael Davidson, Acting Head of Early Childhood and Schools Division, OECD Directorate for Education, 14 May 2012)

What the action plan said - key elements

The LAP emphasised the importance of early learning experiences and cognitive development in providing solid foundations from which more formal literacy learning can be developed. The importance of rich home learning environments was also emphasised, as was the need for early and co-ordinated intervention by agencies where and when required to meet the needs of children and their families.

The plan contained a number of specific commitments (LAP, pages 7 & 8) which centred on the already well-established Early Years Framework and Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC), the national framework for all who work with children and young people. Specific commitments included working with the Scottish Book Trust in order to target more vulnerable families through the third phase of the PlayTalkRead campaign; strengthening connections with health partnerships; and supporting early years' practitioners through developing their professional learning opportunities and qualifications, through Curriculum for Excellence Early Level curriculum guidance and through developing and supporting their assessment approaches and practices.

Progress to date

"Most children are making good progress in early language and literacy development. Where this is most effective, staff provide well-planned experiences for children both inside and out-of-doors. Where this is not positive, activities are often too easy for children and they need more extension and challenge...there are still centres where literacy...is not well embedded into meaningful, real life contexts for children."

(Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education, Trends in Inspection Findings 2008-2011) Education Scotland, 13 June 2012 - from summary of key findings in Pre-school section, pages 9 and 10)

- New Universal 24-30 Month Child Health Reviews recommended to include, as core review topics, a child's language and cognitive development and the availability of books and reading within the home environment, following recommendations made by the dedicated short-life working group established by the Scottish Government in autumn 2011.

- The Early Years Task Force published a paper outlining their key priorities in spring 2012. These priorities included the development of a new national parenting strategy, plus continuing support for a third phase of the PlayTalkRead programme - bringing the total funding so far to around £1.65m - and an extra £450,000 of Scottish Government support for an extension of the Bookbug programme in 2012/13 to widen access and participation for vulnerable and harder to reach families. In total, 14,385 Bookbug Sessions were held in financial year 2011-12, attended by nearly 400,000 parents/carers and children (up by 21% from 2010-11).

- £1.5 million p.a. invested for 3 years from April 2012 to increase early learning and childcare provision for looked after 2 year olds.

- Every Day's a Learning Day resource produced by Education Scotland to help parents support their child's development in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. The books are distributed through the Scottish Book Trust's Bookbug programme. Parents and carers of new babies receive a copy of the birth to 3 book and those with children aged 3 to 6 receive the second book when their child starts nursery.

- The Write at Home and Scots for Tots projects encourage parents to support their children's learning and literacy skills' development in early years education and childcare settings, plus schools. Support materials have been published on the Education Scotland website.

- The Imagination Library for Looked after Children in Scotland - a joint initiative between Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Book Trust - is providing one book per month to each of the country's 3,455 looked after children under the age of five. 21 out of 32 Local Authorities have signed up to the programme and around half of all Scottish looked after children under five are now receiving free books.

Next steps

- The Scottish Government will publish an overarching parenting strategy vision document in early October.

- Publication of new Universal 24-30 Month Child Health Review guidance in the autumn, once Ministerial approval has been secured.

- Expansion of free early learning and childcare provision from 475 to a minimum of 600 hours per annum for 3 and 4 year olds, and 2 year olds who are looked after, as part of the Children and Young People Bill to be introduced in 2013.

- Continued development and expansion of the Bookbug programme, including extending the assertive outreach programme to all areas in the country; Bookbug ante-natal gifting pilot activity; and a new partnership with NHS Health Scotland to look at delivering play@home resources alongside Bookbug packs.

- Continuation of existing PlayTalkRead commitments and expansion of the Scotland-wide tour by the PlayTalkRead bus through a second smaller vehicle to focus on the highlands and islands.

- Distribution, promotion and evaluation of Every Day's a Learning Day Birth to 3 years and 3 to 6 years booklets. Education Scotland will pursue the development of further related resources for parents, including a phone app.

- Resources to be added to the Parentzone website for parents to support literacy development of their children at home. Additionally, Education Scotland will offer support to parents through early years conferences and events on literacy and reading.

- Education Scotland will provide continuing professional development and support to practitioners in understanding and embedding literacy in learning through, for example, 'Glow Meets' (online staff development sessions delivered through Glow, the national intranet for schools) and exemplifying good practice online.

School-aged Literacy

"Every teacher in each area of the curriculum needs to find opportunities to encourage young people to explain their thinking, debate their ideas and read and write at a level which will help them to develop their language skills further."

(Literacy across Learning curriculum guidance for teachers and curriculum planners, Scottish Government, 2 April 2009)

Literacy is fundamental to all areas of learning, as it unlocks access to the wider curriculum. Being literate increases opportunities for the individual in all aspects of life, lays the foundations for lifelong learning and work, and contributes strongly to the development of all four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence4 .

Competence and confidence in literacy, including competence in grammar, spelling and the spoken word, are essential for progress in all areas of the curriculum. Because of this, under Curriculum for Excellence all teachers have a specific responsibility to promote the language and literacy development of all children and young people with whom they work.

What the action plan said - key elements

The LAP emphasised the key role of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) to drive up literacy standards for all learners. The new curriculum aims to provide more and better targeted support to those children and young people who need it so that all can reach their potential, and emphasises the importance of developing more advanced (higher order) literacy skills such as understanding, interpreting and analysing complex texts.

Specific commitments (LAP, pages 9 & 10) centred around early identification of literacy (and learning) difficulties and additional support needs, and supporting effective implementation of CfE, plus development of the new CfE qualifications, and CfE's role in promoting literacy development and inclusion, both during the broad general education (ages 3-15) and senior phase (ages 16-18). The LAP also highlighted the key role that local authorities have in raising literacy standards through having effective literacy strategies in place which are suited to local circumstances.

Progress to date

"In almost all schools, children continue to achieve well. The number of schools where outcomes for children are very good or better has increased since our 2009 report (31% to 38%). Children's achievement and progress in English language and literacy remains variable. While children are benefiting increasingly from planned opportunities to apply and develop literacy ... skills across learning, their ability to use literacy skills to help them learn in different curricular areas is not well enough developed."

(Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education, Trends in Inspection Findings 2008-2011, Education Scotland, 13 June 2012 - from summary of key findings in Primary section, page 13).

- Developing and improving literacy skills are central to CfE. Examples of literacy's key position within CfE include the following elements:

  • literacy is an integral part of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)'s work on developing the new National Qualifications, featuring prominently in their Skills Framework which underpins the development of skills within the new qualifications;
  • new National Literacy Units have been created by SQA to confirm standards and recognise literacy achievements. National Literacy Units are designed to be available for a range of learners, no matter what context - for example, adults or young people; school, college or prison - and are accompanied by context-based support.
  • literacy also features very prominently in the new arrangements for profiling young people's achievements and reporting on their progress to parents;
  • the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN)5 , a new sample-based survey, focused on literacy for the first time in May this year, with the survey outcomes to be published in spring 2013; and
  • high quality learning and teaching resources for literacy have been created by Education Scotland, matched to the Experiences and Outcomes (curriculum national guidance) of Curriculum for Excellence.

- The final specifications for the new National Qualifications (to be certificated for the first time in 2014) were published by SQA on 30 April 2012. These feature literacy (and numeracy) as key skills across the new qualifications. Distinct literacy units have also been developed at SCQF6 levels 3, 4 and 5 for young people and adult learners - at levels 3 and 4 they will form part of new National 3 and 4 English courses; at level 5 they will be embedded within the new National 5 English courses and will not be certificated separately.

- 2012 examination results published by SQA on 7 August 2012 showed that pupils continue to perform well in English qualifications. Of the 49,089 entries for Standard Grade English in 2012, 47,415 passed at level SCQF6 4 or above. Grades 1-6 in English were up slightly from those of 2011. Pass rates at Intermediate 1 and 2 also rose with Higher English, the most popular Higher (29,683 entries, accounting for 16.3% of total entries this year), rising 1.7% to 73.2%).

- Summary Statistics for Attainment, Leaver Destinations and Healthy Living published by the Scottish Government on 28 June 2012, reported that in S4 nine out of ten pupils gained an award at SCQF level 3 (Standard Grade foundation level) or above in both English and Maths in 2010/11. This figure has been consistent over a number of years. Additionally, attainment (based on average tariff scores) of the lowest performing 20% of pupils in S4 in 2010/11 was slightly up on 2009/10, as was attainment of the remaining 80% and all S4 pupils.

- Key findings from Education Scotland's inspections from 2008 to 2011 show that a good start has been made by teacher educators to improving the ability of all newly-qualified teachers to teach literacy (Quality and Improvement in Scottish Education, Trends in Inspection Findings 2008-2011 Education Scotland, 13 June 2012 - from summary of key findings in Teacher Education section, page 37).

- The Scottish Government has been supporting five local authorities - Edinburgh, Fife, Highland, North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire - recognised for sustaining particularly proactive and authority-wide approaches to raising literacy levels. They showcased their work at a national event on 'Enhancing Local Authority Literacy Strategies' held on 18 April 2012 aimed at driving the development of literacy 'hubs' forward. The event was attended by senior literacy and educational psychology personnel from 30 local authorities. Now work is ongoing with these five literacy hub authorities to support sharing of successful approaches and resources across other local authorities in Scotland in a more systematic manner in order to improve literacy outcomes for young people.

The key success criteria upon which the literacy hubs work is based includes the following components:

  • a sustained approach to improving literacy from early years through to the senior phase, and beyond;
  • a focus on constantly striving to raise the bar in terms of what young people can achieve;
  • early identification, monitoring/tracking and interventions where and when any literacy difficulties become apparent, with educational psychology services having a key role in this area;
  • more personalisation and targeted support for individual and small groups of children in danger of under-achieving;
  • an approach to CPD/professional learning & development which focuses on sharing innovative practice, and achieving a shared understanding of standards;
  • evaluation, including effective self-evaluation practices; and
  • leadership and commitment at every level, including through distributed models of leadership that encourage and nurture effective leadership qualities at all levels.

- A short Raising Attainment publication, based on the outcomes of the short life Attainment Working Group of head teachers and complementary research work by the Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES), was sent to all teachers and other key education community personnel in March 2012. The publication contained a specific reference to the importance of "focusing on literacy as a platform on which to build future learning" as one of the six key approaches to raising young people's attainment levels highlighted in the publication. The guide also contained reflective questions for practitioners on how to ensure essential literacy skills run through all aspects of learning and how to work with colleagues to encourage literacy development.

- The above publication sits within wider work involving ADES and Education Scotland, plus the Engage for Education website, to encourage a sustained focus within the education system on raising attainment, and the key role literacy plays within this.

- The English Excellence Group report was published on 11 March 2011 along with 16 other reports commissioned by the Scottish Government on what makes for excellence in subjects, and in skills development (including higher order, advanced skills), across learning and the curriculum. The English Excellence Group Report emphasised the need for a rich diet and range of reading, including Scottish and heritage texts. It reasserted the place of grammatical understanding as a fundamental set of skills without which young people will limit their success. The report highlighted the value of enrichment through libraries, theatres and other media contexts, including film, and the need to be more creative in classroom access to and use of information and communications technology.

- 29 case studies from 27 Education Authorities highlighted quality assurance and moderation practice, including some on the specific moderation of literacy within and across local authorities, were uploaded onto the National Assessment Resource (NAR) at the end of March 2012. A 'Glow Meet' (online staff development session) was held on 21 May 2012 and an Innovation Summit will be held in September 2012 to help disseminate these exemplars and other good practice.

- A Dyslexia Toolkit for teachers and other practitioners has been developed by Dyslexia Scotland, with support from Education Scotland. Launched in June 2010, the resource has been promoted across Scotland with a programme of events. Dyslexia Scotland are currently updating and enhancing the toolkit with a grant from the Scottish Government.

- Education Scotland has held ongoing professional learning opportunities and support events, and created literacy resources, for teachers and other practitioners on literacy, including:

  • support for English practitioners to develop learning and teaching approaches for the new National Qualifications;
  • promotion and development of resources to support media and digital literacy;
  • creation and promotion of the online literacy community and National Literacy Network;
  • creation and distribution of literacy newsletters to early years, primary and secondary establishments;
  • development of an online resource to support the literacy skills of those aspiring to become teachers; and
  • continuing to work with the Scottish Book Trust to promote reading via Glow through a wide range of national initiatives such as the popular 'Authors Live' online events, World Book Day celebrations and a family pack for primary one pupils.

- SQA has published new guidance to support teachers and other practitioners in learning, teaching and assessment approaches for English, in addition to hosting national support events for practitioners on the new National Qualifications in all curriculum areas, including English and Literacy.

- Education Scotland also offer support to parents via nationwide conferences on literacy/reading and literacy advice provided on Parentzone.

Next steps

The Scottish Government and its partners will:

- Use the information and outcomes from the 2012 Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN) to develop tailored literacy materials and resources for teachers and others, based on practitioner and learner needs as identified in the survey. The final tranche of resources and support materials will be made available through Education Scotland's various channels by September 2013.

- As part of supporting the implementation of Teaching Scotland's Future, lead the development of diagnostic assessment and self-supported study materials to enable aspiring teachers and newly-qualified teachers to develop their knowledge and skills to teach literacy.

- Continue to support hub and consortia based approaches within local authorities towards improving literacy outcomes. The five hub authorities will report to the Scottish Government on progress with collaborating and sharing their literacy approaches with other local authorities by the end of March 2013. Another national enhancing literacy strategies event will be held in April 2013 to look at progress with this development.

- Continue to work with the educational psychology professional bodies to support the development of the literacy hubs, particularly supporting local authorities with early and robust identification, monitoring and tracking of any literacy difficulties and taking swift and appropriate actions to resolve these. Work is just beginning to create a new literacy early intervention online resource to support local authorities in this key area. The initial focus of the new resource will be the transition from pre-school to Primary 1, in keeping with the priority transition point identified in the LAP. The intention is to make the resource available by June 2013.

- Develop a replacement for the existing Standard Tables and Charts (STACs), a benchmarking and self-evaluation resource which allows internal and external benchmarking/comparison of SQA attainment data across schools and local authorities. The new system will present a number of national measures on a 'dashboard', with one of the planned national measures covering the attainment of literacy qualifications and awards at SCQF level 4 or better and SCQF level 5 or better. This will include SQA qualifications in English and Maths plus a wider range of awards considered to include literacy at the required level. The new resource will be available in summer 2014.

- Continue to provide a wide range of professional learning opportunities for practitioners relating to literacy. As part of Education Scotland's school inspections there will remain a key focus on evaluating the literacy skills of learners, and making recommendations where improvements are needed. Additionally, SQA will provide increased practical support for practitioners through a programme of 145 support events between September 2012 and March 2013, including practical advice and guidance on introducing the National Literacy Units and new National Courses in English. SQA will also create assessment exemplars for the National Literacy Units, ready for practitioners to use, from October 2012 onwards.

- Jordan's New Jaiket, a new book in Scots by Matthew Fitt illustrated by Ross Collins, will be distributed by the Scottish Book Trust to all c.60,000 Primary 1 pupils in Scotland in November.

Adult Literacies

"By 2020 Scotland's society and economy will be stronger because more of its adults are able to read, write and use numbers effectively in order to handle information, communicate with others, express ideas and opinions, make decisions and solve problems, as family members, workers, citizens and lifelong learners."

(Adult Literacies in Scotland 2020: strategic guidance, Scottish Government, January 2011)

What the action plan said - key elements

The Literacy Action Plan emphasised that adult learners are a diverse group so there needs to be a variety of learning opportunities with flexible delivery methods and learning programmes which are relevant to learners' lives. Adult literacy learning can take place in formal e.g. colleges, workplaces and more informal settings e.g. community-based provision. The plan committed us to refreshing the Adult Literacy & Numeracy Strategy with the aim of challenging ourselves to achieve more, particularly in areas of deprivation.

Specific commitments (LAP, page 12) centred around working with a range of service providers and delivery partners to improve the quality, range and infrastructure of learning opportunities available to adult learners, and improving professional development for the range of practitioners involved in delivering adult literacy learning, including professionals and volunteers.

Education Scotland now has the policy remit for Adult Literacies and is leading on policy implementation and practice development for the Adult Literacies in Scotland (ALIS) 2020 strategy.

Progress to date (towards the ALIS2020 outcomes)

- National leadership and co-ordination for ALIS 2020 has been improved through the setting up of the Strategic Implementation Group (SIG).

- Literacy Commitments Tables have been established with six national organisations and 18 local partnerships sharing plans to work towards ALIS 2020 commitments. The tables have improved national and local commitment to and communication on adult literacies. Stakeholders who completed the tables identified 60 individual actions that would contribute to achieving the strategy's outcomes.

- A new Professional Development Framework for adult literacies' practitioners and employers has been developed by the ALIS 2020 Professional Development Working Group.

- SQA and Education Scotland have worked together to create new Professional Development Awards in literacies at SCQF level 8 which have increased continual professional development opportunities for practitioners.

- Education Scotland has developed the Big Book of Literacies Training, a resource bank for supporting young people with their literacy learning.

- A business case has now been agreed for a research project to examine local, national and international adult literacies measurement systems from the Measuring Impact Working Group.

- The Glasgow Life Project has increased the engagement of hard to reach adult learners in literacy "hotspots".

- Literacy and Numeracy Alerting Questions, developed by Education Scotland, Job Centre Plus and key literacies partners, has improved the referral process for learners so that they are directed to appropriate literacies support.

- Opportunities for improved communication and sharing practice for practitioners in literacies and community learning & development (CLD) are now available through the Connect online communities of practice resource.

- Skills Development Scotland (SDS) continued to promote The Big Plus campaign, conducting two waves of activity in February/March 2011 and March 2012. This national coverage included a mix of online, radio, press and outdoor poster advertising. People who contact SDS as a result of the activity are directed to their local authority based Adult Literacy and Numeracy Partnership.

- The Big Plus Challenge, a screening tool for assessing the literacy (and numeracy) levels of those in custody, was rolled out across the prison estate - work is now ongoing with SQA to develop a computerised version and provide greater coherence across the education system through aligning with Core Skills.

- Education Scotland, Dyslexia Scotland, the Scottish Prison Service and Motherwell and Carnegie Colleges developed a DVD aimed at prisoners to raise awareness of Dyslexia. The DVD, Dyslexia, Learning and You, was launched by Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages, at HMP Perth7 .

- The Scottish Library & Information Council (SLIC) has worked with Learning Connections on the Big Plus In Libraries over a four year period to encourage those with low literacy skills and low confidence with reading to improve their skills. Thirty-two reader development co-ordinators have worked with local literacy workers to develop programmes and place over 200,000 items suitable for those with lower literacy skills in libraries. SLIC, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and Learning Connections also ran two national programmes with the Scottish Premier League (SPL) to encourage family reading, including the Reading Stars programme which involved SPL players promoting adult and children's books.

- The Scottish Book Trust, in partnership with the Scottish Government and Standard Life, has developed Skint!, an interactive book for use within facilitated
groups of 16-to-26-year-olds. Skint! consists of two illustrated storylines that explore issues around money management and responsibility. The stories have been created to engage reluctant readers and focus on realistic, financial circumstances where they must think through making choices and the consequences of their actions. The Scottish Book Trust's learning web-pages contain a downloadable version of Skint!, extensive tutor support notes and a fully accessible digital edition of the resource.

- Colleges across Scotland also make a significant contribution to local literacies development and delivery through Community Planning Partnerships and other local partnerships. In particular, colleges contribute to local More Choices, More Chances (MCMC) work and to Opportunities for All, the Scottish Government's guaranteed offer of a place in education or training for every 16 to 19-year-old in Scotland, announced in April 2012. Colleges have a key role to play in delivering adult literacies, in working with young people within the senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence and in having a positive impact on family life through developing confidence and skills in all learners.

Next Steps

- The ALIS2020 Strategic Implementation Group (SIG) will continue to oversee the implementation of the ALIS2020 Strategy.

- A report to be published on the ALIS2020 commitments to be delivered by local and national partners in 2012/13. Additionally, develop the communication, planning and evidencing of adult literacies work gathered through the Commitment Tables and increase the number of local partnerships and national delivery organisations submitting commitments.

- A report on the Glasgow Life 'Hotspots' project to be published by December 2012, with roll out of the hotspots model to take place in Renfrewshire, Dundee and Fife.

- Establish an Offenders' Learning working group and Adult Literacies Curriculum Framework working group for 2012/13.

- Roll out the new Professional Development Framework and make it available on the i-develop CLD Standards Council online platform.

- Procure and deliver a research project to examine local, national and international Adult Literacy & Numeracy (ALN) measurement systems.

- Skills Development Scotland will continue to promote The Big Plus and work with partners to ensure a coordinated approach to awareness raising of this service.