The SSTA is disappointed to note that since 2012 Scotland’s scores for 15 year olds in the PISA assessments have dropped from ‘above average’ in reading and science to average, and have remained average in Maths. While recognising that the ‘average’ standard is high among the large number of OECD countries assessed, Scotland has a long tradition of educational excellence and needs to realise its potential as a front-runner.
Behind the bare figures were a number of interesting responses from Scottish students relating to behaviour, relations with teachers and teacher feedback. These made it clear that teachers in Scotland are well ahead of their OECD peers in the way that they maintain good order so that learning takes place. Nearly 45% of students reported that their teacher ‘shows an interest in every student’s learning’ in ‘every lesson’ (compared with about 34% elsewhere), and reported much higher figures of receiving teachers feedback than other students across the OECD. Reaching learning goals is also a strong feature of Scottish education, again with most pupils agreeing that they receive advice from their teachers more regularly than other OECD students.
Euan Duncan, SSTA President, said, “What we are looking for now is a period of stability. All the changes that have taken place in recent years have added tremendously to the pressure on teachers and youngsters. Furthermore, reductions in support staff and shortages of supply teachers have taken teachers away from their core function. From students’ responses it is clear that there is no shortage of passion or commitment from teachers, and that they are working hard to develop the kind of positive ethos required for good learning to take place. There is no magic solution to improving the downward PISA performance trend, but good starting points will be to provide teachers with very clear aims and sufficient resources with which to achieve them.”
SSTA General Secretary, Seamus Searson, said, “These figures come as no surprise. SSTA members have been concerned about the effect workload and assessment pressure are having on teachers and youngsters for a while which is why we are now engaged in industrial action. We need to put pupils first and give teachers time to teach!”
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