Every child and young person has the right to fulfil his or her potential. This is at the heart of both GIRFEC and Curriculum for Excellence.
Improving attainment and achievement go hand in hand and mean improving life chances and enabling all our young people to progress and develop the skills, ambition and know how to enable them to fulfil their potential.
The term ‘achievement’ is used broadly in the Getting it right approach. Here it is rooted in the concept of children’s rights, particularly the right of every child to fulfil his or her potential.
At one level this means being engaged, motivated to attend and actively participating in their learning and developing the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes needed for life and work in the 21st century. For those with additional support needs and with special talents and abilities it involves having the opportunities and support to maximise their potential.
In the early years it involves being supported at home and in pre-school to meet or exceed the appropriate developmental milestones and be ready for primary school. But readiness for school clearly means more than just being prepared for the challenges presented by a new learning environment. It is also about developing confidence, social skills, and some level of self care and autonomy in order to cope effectively with the transition to school and a different kind of learning environment. This close correspondence between achievement and being ready for transition to new situations and new challenges runs through their schooling and on to higher or further education, training and employment.
Achievement is also about accomplishing or finishing something successfully through effort, skill, perseverance and practice. This can apply to many aspects of life and not just education. It applies to sporting achievements, art, music, dance and drama, hobbies, leisure activities and other interests. Curriculum for Excellence recognises that attainment is an individual’s passport to personal, social, cultural and economic opportunities and is designed to raise standards and attainment levels through excellence in learning and teaching. It also recognises the vital importance of recognising and valuing wider achievements either within or out with school. This can take place in a range of ways including recognised award programmes, voluntary work or achievements such as sport or cultural activities in school or the community. I. Curriculum guidance (the 'Experiences and Outcomes' covering each subject and area of the curriculum) has such wider achievements embedded within the different subjects/areas and levels. Learner profiles, which will be developed with the learner, during the key transition points of P7 and S3, will capture young people's latest and best achievements in a range of areas, not just academic achievement.
Achievement also applies to a child’s development as a social being with a fully-formed and autonomous personality who feels they belong and can navigate their way through life with knowledge, understanding, skill and confidence in their ability to cope with new and different challenges.
Through the Curriculum for Excellence, all children and young people are entitled to experience a broad general education, with appropriate personalisation and choice, from age 3 to the end of S3. They are also entitled to opportunities for developing skills for learning, life and work. These skills are relevant from the early years right through to the senior phase of learning (S4-S6) and beyond. The development of skills is essential to learning and education to help young people to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. The skills and attributes which children and young people develop should provide them with a sound basis for their development as lifelong learners in their adult, social and working lives, enabling them to reach their full potential.