Service Overview

Education Services is the largest of Falkirk Council's services.

School education is provided for more than 21,000 pupils in 50 primary, 8 secondary and 4 special schools. The service delivers pre-school provision in 8 nursery schools and day nurseries and 45 nursery classes, in addition the service co-operates with local private sector providers to ensure a comprehensive, high quality early education service across the whole council area.

Pupil attainment and achievement in our schools continue to rise. Our level of exclusions remains steady and low, and compares favourably across Scotland. There is a commitment to continuing to improve our attainment figures as educational attainment is the best way to improve life chances for children and young people.

Unemployment rates for young people are higher in Falkirk than the Scottish and UK averages. We recognise that we must continue to work in partnership with others locally and nationally to face these challenges and increase the positive destination profile of our young people when they leave school.

Community Learning and Development (CLD) supports and develops community organisations and individuals through training and capacity building programmes.

Council Performance

Highlights

% of Pupils Gaining 5+ Awards at Level 6

This shows the percentage of the original S4 cohort gaining 5 or more Highers by the end of S6. Performance in the 5th and 6th years of secondary school (i.e. when pupils sit higher qualifications) is an important stage in the education of Scottish students. By comparing the achievement levels of young people, councils can share good practice to aid improvement across all areas.

Attainment of 5 or more Highers by the end of S6 has been increasing steadily in recent years and is now the highest recorded by Falkirk Council.

School staff analyse performance in each subject area, identify strengths and areas for improvement, and take appropriate action to raise attainment. This action is incorporated into school improvement planning. Principal teachers of subject areas meet together within Curriculum Management Groups to identify good practice and strategies for improvement, further supported by Subject Development Groups which focus on specific subjects. A focus on effective learning and teaching as part of Curriculum for Excellence is having a positive impact with pupils being encouraged to engage actively in their learning. Pupils' awareness of their progress is helping them to take increased responsibility for their own learning.

Areas for Improvement

Proportion of Pupils Entering Positive Destinations – This is a valuable way of measuring how well schools prepare young people for life beyond school. It provides an overall measure of a wide range of post-school destinations (higher or further education, employment, training or voluntary work).

The latest school leaver destinations report showed that 89.7% of Falkirk school leavers entered a positive destination. Over the 6 years up to 2013/14, the percentage of Falkirk school leavers in a positive destination increased by 10.4%. Session 2014/15 saw a drop of 2.7% and these latest results are being scrutinised to identify where we need to improve.

As part of the Falkirk Local Employability Partnership, Youth Transition Teams have been identified to work with each secondary school during key transition times. These teams are made up of members from the school, Skills Development Scotland, Employment Training Unit, Community Learning & Development and Forth Valley College. Their aims are to identify at an earlier stage young people most at risk of not entering a positive destination and to provide formal offers before they leave school. This group includes Young Carers, young people who are Looked After and those with Additional Support Needs. This initiative has had a positive impact on moving more vulnerable young people into a positive destination.

% of Pupils from Deprived Areas Gaining 5+ Awards at Level 5 (SIMD)

This indicator measures the percentage of children from the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods in Scotland (according to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation) who have attained 5 or more awards at SCQF level 5 (equivalent to a National 5 pass) by the end of S4.

All local authorities strive to increase the attainment and achievement of children from areas of relative deprivation. A wide body of international research shows children from areas of relative deprivation tend, on average, to perform less well in school. Tracking the achievements of these children and young people is, therefore, an important step in ensuring we can help them achieve their full potential.

Performance increased from 2011/12 to 2013/14 but fell in 2014/15. For SQA attainment it is important to look at longer term trends as the ability of a particular cohort of pupils can have an impact on the SQA results.

Closing the attainment gap between different levels of deprivation is a top priority for schools. Schools are tailoring the curriculum to suit individual students, in line with Curriculum for Excellence, for example using National Progression Awards, Group Awards and other awards beyond those offered traditionally. Improved tracking and monitoring in schools allows target setting and support for individual pupils.


What the Council is doing to improve services

Overall, the emphasis on making pupils take a more active role in their own learning continues. Falkirk Council's Literacy and Numeracy Strategies address all ages from pre-birth to post-retirement with a stretch aim of zero illiteracy and innumeracy by 2017. The focus this year has been on Talking and Listening at early levels and Reading at other levels. In Maths, the focus has been on improving teaching strategies to build pupil confidence in basic numbers to enhance the learners’ problem solving abilities.

In the Broad General Education phase of Curriculum for Excellence (3 – 15 yrs), we have focused on the development of active learning methodologies (ie. where pupils are encouraged to engage in thinking for themselves through individual and group work) for the development of Skills for Learning, Life and Work.

An Opportunities for All Co-ordinator provides a link between the service, other council services and partner agencies to ensure all young people receive an offer of a positive destination, including Forth Valley College and local businesses.

Youth Transition Teams have been established in all secondary schools to discuss those at risk of not progressing to a positive destination (see Areas for Improvement). A similar team has been established to support young people outwith mainstream schools. Work is underway with Stirling University and LEAPS (Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools) to improve the number of young people moving on to higher education.

Community Learning and Development (CLD) has continued to support and develop community organisations and individuals through training and capacity building programmes. Literacy programmes have worked with a range of groups as part of CLD’s contribution to the council’s Literacy Strategy.

The Service & School Improvement Team undertakes a year round programme of school visits and school reviews, with the latter incorporating an element of peer review, which encourages schools’ managers to enhance their abilities to evaluate more critically their own performance as well as that of others.


How can the public get involved?

Citizens panel

The Citizens Panel helps us listen and respond to your views. We are always looking for more people to join the Citizens Panel, so that we can be sure that the survey responses are representative of the whole population. If you want to make your voice heard, join the Citizens Panel today. You have the option to complete surveys online or on paper.

01324 506032

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