Improving Outcomes for Young People through School Education
East Dunbartonshire's excellent reputation in education is thriving as the children and young people in its Early Years Centres, Primary Schools and Secondary Schools continue to learn and grow in supportive, nurturing environments with a determined focus on uncovering and developing talent.
This was borne out when a light was shone on schools by Audit Scotland in 2019 as it undertook work to look at how effectively the Scottish Government, Councils and their partners were improving outcomes for young people through school education. Audit Scotland emphasised at the outset that school education is not just about exam results, but also about improving children’s and young people’s health and wellbeing and supporting wider outcomes such as vocational qualifications.
As with so much else across the globe, their focus and the scope of their activities were shifted in 2020 as a result of the pandemic to include looking at the impact of Covid-19.
Their report Improving Outcomes for Young People through Schools Education, published in March 2021, highlighted a number of very positive achievements for secondary schools in East Dunbartonshire Council. Arguably, none more important than those relating to the Council's efforts from Early Years to Senior Phase, to close the poverty related attainment gap.
It showed the gap between achievement of five or more awards for the most and least deprived was the lowest across all Councils for 2018 – 2019 at 20% compared with a national figure of 30%. A great deal of hard work and commitment to equity across all aspects of education in East Dunbartonshire is behind that figure.
Depute Chief Executive, Ann Davie said, "We are fortunate in East Dunbartonshire to have built up teams centrally and in schools and establishments across the area that are committed to inspiring our children and young people to aspire and achieve. Our secondary schools are consistently among the top performing in the country which is no mean feat but it is encouraging that alongside that, we are making significant progress in closing the attainment gap.
"It starts in our Early Years Centres which offer quality, flexible and affordable services to families with a focus on our communities' most vulnerable babies and toddlers. And it continues through Primary Schools with a focus on nurture and the health & wellbeing of children and families. In Secondary Schools, pupils are encouraged to work hard on a route to success that uses their skills and talent.
"Access to the very best academic learning and vocational opportunities mean we are able to Develop the Young Work Force and equip young people for life after school with more than 96% of them going onto a positive destination."
The Audit Scotland report also compared data from 2013/14 and East Dunbartonshire Council has demonstrated continuous improvement in each of the following years - a testament to the hard work, dedication and partnership working of children, families, school staff and the central Education team.
It is worth noting that of the four performance measures, East Dunbartonshire is the second top performing council in Scotland in the two measures relating to achieving one award and five or more awards at level 5. We are the second top performing mainland council in relation to school leavers participating in education, employment or training and we take top spot in relation to school leavers achieving at least level 4 in numeracy and literacy.
Ann Davie added, "Our schools are committed to improving the prospects of all young people as highlighted in our East Dunbartonshire Local Outcome Improvement Plan. In East Dunbartonshire we will continue our work towards further narrowing the gap between those in our most deprived areas compared to those in more affluent areas as we recover from the pandemic - it is so important."