Fife’s most disadvantaged young people are closing literacy gap

Craig Munro, Fife Council's executive director for education and children's services.
Craig Munro, Fife Council's executive director for education and children's services.

Children born into disadvantaged families in Fife have more chance of higher attainment than elsewhere in Scotland.

Figures show Fife is bucking all national trends in closing the gap in literacy levels for those from the poorest households, giving them more opportunity to gain the tools they need to go on to succeed in the work place.

That’s the message council leaders received from Craig Munro, Fife Council’s executive director of education and children’s services, when he was invited to address the COSLA conference.

Mr Munro was asked to speak at the conference to show how Fife’s child-centred approach is helping to ‘Close the Gap’ and explain how Fife is managing to create a more equitable education system.

He said: “Here in Fife we believe wholeheartedly in a holistic approach to children’s services. There’s no ‘new initiative’ magic wand that can be waved which will lift children out of the cycle of poverty and disadvantage.

“By looking at the whole child we can make sure that the support they need is targeted in the right way at the right time. We have put our focus on improving learning and teaching and leadership and it seems to be working.

“This holistic approach begins with the early years and our family nurture approach and continues throughout the child’s school years and their transition into work, college or university. Our programmes for improving employability skills are particularly exciting ”

Mr Munro added: “There’s still plenty of work to be done. Breaking the cycle of disadvantage is a huge task but in Fife we are seeing significant results already, sometimes bucking national trends.

“Although there is still a long way to go it is clear that in Fife the attainment bar is not only rising for all pupils but it is also beginning to level.

“More children are literate in Fife than ever before with more than 50 per cent of S4 pupils achieving a National 5 pass in English and we are closing the gap for the most disadvantaged pupils.

“In Fife the rise in literacy levels for those children from areas of multiple deprivation has risen by 10 per cent.

“The overall quality of education in Scotland is measured by Her Majesty Inspectors (HMI) and Fife schools are almost twice as likely to receive ‘Excellent’ in their Education Scotland inspection reports than elsewhere in Scotland, and are substantially above the Scottish average for ‘very good’ and ‘good’.

Fife Council Leader David Ross was delighted to see Fife so positively represented at the COSLA conference, which was arranged to showcase the good work in education that is being undertaken by local authorities across Scotland.

Cllr Ross said: “We have invested significantly in early years and our family nurture approach is being held up as an example of best practice.

“We have a joined-up approach to children’s services in Fife and the Getting it Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) Fife partnership makes sure that children, and their families, are given the support they need to achieve their full potential, regardless of their social or economic background.

“We understand that these are the first steps on a long journey for our children, but with support and guidance we are setting them on the road to a brighter future.”