The Government has confirmed that each primary and secondary school will be set "clear, realistic and achievable targets for improvement" at the start of the next school year in August 1998.
Brian Wilson, the Education Minister, made this clear today (Friday) as he prepared to chair the first meeting of the national action group on standards, whose establishment was announced in early July. It will produce annual reports.
Mr Wilson said he intended carrying the profession with him, an undertaking symbolised by the presence on the 16-member action group of Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland. This is the first time the union has been admitted to the inner circle of Scottish Office policy-making in almost 20 years, although its education convener is a member of the Higher Still implementation group.
The action group will concentrate initially on literacy, numeracy and public examinations. Levels of deprivation will be taken into account in drawing up "realistic" targets, an approach which is in line with proposals issued south of the border this week by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority.
Mr Wilson says the group will not be confined to setting targets and will look at other aspects of raising standards. Its early priorities will be to improve the quality of learning and teaching, tackle underachievement and investigate ways of monitoring the performance of schools.