Wellbeing data 'needed to shift focus away from exams'

'Robust' data is required if schools in Scotland are to be judged on more than just exam results, says auditor general

Tes Reporter

Wellbeing data 'needed so schools aren't judged solely on exam results'

If schools are to be about more than just exam results "robust data" needs to be collected on a broader range of measures such as health, wellbeing and confidence, Audit Scotland has said.

The auditor general, Stephen Boyle, told MSPs today that it was accepted that schools were about more than exam results, but when it came to the data the focus remained on attainment when a “broader suite of indicators” was needed.

The Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee was also told that the Covid pandemic has led to a “data gap” of two years, which further complicates appraisals of success or otherwise.

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In March, Audit Scotland published a report that said the poverty-related attainment gap in education remained wide, despite recent progress.

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The report – called Improving outcomes for young people through school education – was discussed at this morning's meeting of the Public Audit Committee.

Mr Boyle said: “We recognise the complexity of closing the poverty-related attainment gap, but it remains wide and progress towards it falls short of the Scottish government’s aims.

“Improvement needs to happen faster and more consistently across Scotland to address the inequalities which existed before Covid-19 and have increased as result.”

He added: “One of our key findings in [the] report is that there’s a lack of robust data to measure against the broader aspects of the Scottish education system.

“So there’s plenty of data and an overt focus...on attainment levels within schools in respect of exam results.

“But not that broader sense, that it’s accepted that schools are about more than than just the exam results.”

Mr Boyle said he accepted it would be “difficult” to develop indicators for children’s health, wellbeing and confidence.

He added: “Nonetheless, if school is to shift away from being a sole focus on exams, as we see in the indicators, we have to overcome this hurdle to have a broader suite of indicators.”

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