WORRIED Conservative councillors are urging SNP colleagues to take major action after new figures showed a third of pupils in North Ayrshire are failing to achieve required levels in numeracy.

But the party in power say a major new programme is being introduced to help reverse the slide.

Conservative leader Tom Marshall said in a question to education cabinet member Shaun Macaulay: “[A report] published on November 22 recorded the percentage of combined P1, P4 and P7 pupils achieving the expected grade in Curriculum For Excellence (CfE) combined.

“For North Ayrshire the numeracy level recorded in 2018/19 was 79.4 per cent and in 2020/21 it was 67.4 per cent. A drop of 12 points or 15 per cent.

"Given that this now means that fully one third of these pupils are failing to achieve the expected grade in numeracy in CfE what plans do the administration have to rectify these unacceptable figures?"

In his reply, depute leader Macaulay said: “Nationally-published attainment statistics in numeracy for North Ayrshire Council declined in 2020/21 (during the pandemic).

"Prior to this, North Ayrshire learners performed better than the national cohort in terms of the percentage who achieved the expected Curriculum for Excellence level in primary numeracy.

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“It is widely accepted that the pandemic had a significant impact on pupil learning, and even more so in areas of highest disadvantage across Scotland.

"As a result, attainment levels declined in North Ayrshire (as they did across Scotland) in 2021 in primary numeracy.

“Locally, head teachers have identified the principal reasons for this as a high level of interrupted learning, pupil and staff absence, and periods of national lockdown as a result of the pandemic.

“The education service confirmed it had introduced additional interventions in numeracy throughout session 2021/22. It was reported to cabinet that through the education service standards and quality report 2021/22 that numeracy attainment had increased to 74 per cent, a recovery of eight percentage points in one year.

“This year’s education service improvement plan seeks to improve outcomes further through high quality learning, teaching and assessment and, importantly, the development of a three-year raising attainment strategy.

“Based on the analysis of attainment so far this year, the education service currently projects that the primary numeracy attainment figures will continue to recover this year, rising to 77 per cent for session 2022/23 although this figure will continue to be refined in the coming months prior to the final submission of attainment data in June 2023."

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