City education chiefs have hailed a record level of Dundee pupils going onto bigger and better things after leaving school.
The proportion of school leavers entering “positive destinations” such as college, university, apprenticeships or employment within a year is 94.3% – the highest level since recording began in 2009.
And the number of primary and secondary pupils achieving expected milestones in skills such as reading and writing under the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) have either increased or at least stayed the same year-on-year.
Performance among pupils from more deprived backgrounds is also on the up, with Attainment Challenge funding reducing the gap in National 4 achievements between Dundee’s worst-off and better-off areas from 22 percentage points to 15 in five years.
Audrey May, Dundee City Council’s chief education officer, said: “The Curriculum for Excellence figures are right up there but it’s important we don’t lose focus.
“The improvements are all down to the schools – headteachers, teachers, support staff – and the children themselves.”
However, secondary pupils are struggling to achieve expected examination pass rates amid issues adapting the CfE to senior years – an issue highlighted by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) last month under instruction from Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
Exact details for the 2018/19 school year have not been published to date, but the SQA report states that Higher passes across Scotland have fallen by 2.7% in English, 2.1% in Maths and 9.7% in French.
Just a quarter of Dundee school leavers achieved five or more Highers in the 2017/18 school year.
Secondaries also face the further challenge of coping with council plans to scrap principal teachers and introduce faculty heads to save hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.
Ms May added: “There’s been changes (in secondary schools) over a number of years and schools have had to adapt, and that’s been challenging.
“It takes time to bed changes in – it’s generational, and takes time for teachers to build confidence.
“Faculties are only one part of the jigsaw – we’ve rewritten our school improvement framework to be more targeted so some schools get more support as and when they need it.”
Councillors are set to hear more about pupil performance at the children and family services committee on Monday night.
Stewart Hunter, committee convener, said: “It would be nice if things could be allowed to settle down but I don’t foresee that being the case.
“What’s been done to date is all down to the hard work of schools and staff – that can get lost sometimes.
“It’s been a difficult time getting through it, and there’s a long way to go, but we’ve started to make changes that we needed to make and we’re seeing the difference.”