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Curriculum for Excellence: Building the Curriculum 4: Skills for Learning, Skills for Life and Skills for Work


Annex C: Principles and practice papers from Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes for literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing across learning

Literacy across learning

Principles and practice

Language and literacy are of personal, social and economic importance. Our ability to use language lies at the centre of the development and expression of our emotions, our thinking, our learning and our sense of personal identity. Language is itself a key aspect of our culture. Through language, children and young people can gain access to the literary heritage of humanity and develop their appreciation of the richness and breadth of Scotland's literary heritage. Children and young people encounter, enjoy and learn from the diversity of language used in their homes, their communities, by the media and by their peers.

Literacy is fundamental to all areas of learning, as it unlocks access to the wider curriculum. Being literate increases opportunities for the individual in all aspects of life, lays the foundations for lifelong learning and work, and contributes strongly to the development of all four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence.

Competence and confidence in literacy, including competence in grammar, spelling and the spoken word, are essential for progress in all areas of the curriculum. Because of this, all teachers have responsibility for promoting language and literacy development. Every teacher in each area of the curriculum needs to find opportunities to encourage young people to explain their thinking, debate their ideas and read and write at a level which will help them to develop their language skills further.

Building the Curriculum 1

The literacy experiences and outcomes promote the development of critical and creative thinking as well as competence in listening and talking, reading, writing and the personal, interpersonal and team-working skills which are so important in life and in the world of work. The framework provides, for learners, parents and teachers, broad descriptions of the range of learning opportunities which will contribute to the development of literacy, including critical literacy.

What is meant by literacy?

In defining literacy for the 21st century we must consider the changing forms of language which our children and young people will experience and use. Accordingly, our definition takes account of factors such as the speed with which information is shared and the ways it is shared. The breadth of our definition is intended to 'future proof' it. Within Curriculum for Excellence, therefore, literacy is defined as:

"... the set of skills which allows an individual to engage fully in society and in learning, through the different forms of language, and the range of texts, which society values and finds useful."

The literacy experiences and outcomes promote the development of skills in using language, particularly those that are used regularly by everyone in their everyday lives. These include the ability to apply knowledge about language. They reflect the need for young people to be able to communicate effectively both face-to-face and in writing through an increasing range of media. They take account of national and international research and of other skills frameworks. They recognise the importance of listening and talking and of effective collaborative working in the development of thinking and in learning.

In particular, the experiences and outcomes address the important skills of critical literacy. Children and young people not only need to be able to read for information: they also need to be able to work out what trust they should place on the information and to identify when and how people are aiming to persuade or influence them.

How is the literacy framework structured?

The framework opens with a set of statements that describe the kinds of activity which all children and young people should experience throughout their learning to nurture their skills and knowledge in literacy and language. Teachers will use them, alongside the more detailed experiences and outcomes, in planning for learning and teaching.

The three organisers within the literacy framework are the same as those used in the literacy and English, literacy and Gàidhlig, Gaelic (learners) and modern languages frameworks:

  • listening and talking
  • reading
  • writing.

Within these organisers there are a number of subdivisions.

Enjoyment andchoice experiences and outcomes highlight the importance of providing opportunities for young people to make increasingly sophisticated choices.

The tools sections include important skills and knowledge: for example, in reading it includes such important matters as reading strategies and spelling.

The sections on finding and using information include, in reading, critical literacy skills; while the understanding, analysing and evaluating statements encourage progression in understanding of texts, developing not only literal understanding but also the higher order skills.

Finally, the creating texts experiences and outcomes describe the kind of opportunities which will help children and young people to develop their ability to communicate effectively, for example, by writing clear, well-structured explanations.

The statements of experiences and outcomes emphasise that learning is an active process: for example, the outcomes stress making notes, rather than the passive activity implied by taking notes. Experiences represent important continuing aspects of learning such as exploring and enjoying text, and outcomes describe stages in the development of skills and understanding.

The experiences and outcomes have been written in an inclusive way which will allow teachers to interpret them for the needs of individual children and young people who use Braille, sign language and other forms of communication. This is exemplified in the words 'engaging with others' and 'interacting' within the listening and talking outcomes.

The level of achievement at the fourth level has been designed to approximate to that associated with SCQF level 4.

Why are the literacy experiences and outcomes also published separately from the literacy and English and from the literacy and Gàidhlig frameworks?

The importance of the development of literacy skills across all areas of the curriculum is stressed in Building the Curriculum 1. All practitioners - from the early years, through primary and secondary education, in youth work settings and in colleges - are in a position to make important contributions to developing and reinforcing the literacy skills of children and young people, both through the learning activities which they plan and through their interaction with children and young people. Schools and their partners need to ensure a shared understanding of these responsibilities and that the approaches to learning and teaching will enable each child and young person to make good progress in developing their literacy skills. It is expected that the literacy experiences and outcomes, and this accompanying paper, will be read by a range of practitioners, including those who work in school library resource centres, who make an enormous contribution to the development of the literacy skills of children and young people.

What does this mean for learning and teaching?

For teachers and other practitioners, it means asking the question, "How am I meeting the literacy needs of the learners in front of me?" It means thinking about the kinds of literacy experiences provided for young people. It doesn't mean that every practitioner will teach everything that a secondary English teacher does. These experiences will sometimes be provided through collaborative working with other departments; but the greatest impact for learners will come from all practitioners, in all learning environments, including rich literacy experiences as part of their day-to-day learning and teaching programmes.

What are broad features of assessment in literacy?

(This section complements the advice for literacy and English.)

As literacy is the responsibility of all staff, and because of the importance of literacy across all aspects of a young person's learning, all staff should be clear about their responsibilities and their roles in the assessment of literacy. Assessment in literacy will focus on children and young people's progress in developing and applying essential skills in listening and talking, reading and writing. From the early years to the senior stages, and particularly at times of transition, it is vital to have a clear picture of the progress each child and young person is making across all aspects of literacy so that further learning can be planned and action can be taken if any ground has been lost.

Within the overall approach to assessing literacy, evidence of progress in developing and applying skills in day-to-day learning across the curriculum will complement evidence gathered from language lessons. Specific assessment tasks will also have an important part to play. Practitioners and learners need a common understanding of expectations in literacy across all curriculum areas, and discussion and sharing examples of work will help to achieve this.

Approaches to assessment should identify the extent to which children and young people can apply their literacy skills across their learning. For example:

  • How well do they contribute to discussions and openly explain their thinking?
  • Are they increasingly able to distil key ideas from texts?
  • Can they apply their literacy skills successfully in different areas of their learning and their daily lives?

Children will demonstrate their progress in reading through their growing fluency and understanding, and their increasing confidence in reading to learn as well as learning to read.

Literacy experiences and outcomes emphasise the development of critical literacy. Progress here can be seen as children move from dealing with straightforward information towards analysing, evaluating and being aware of the trust that they should place on evidence.

Children and young people will demonstrate their progress in writing though the degree of independence they show, the organisation and quality of their ideas, their skills in spelling, punctuation and grammar, the match of their writing to audience and the effectiveness of their use of language.

Progress in listening and talking can be assessed through their interactions in social and learning contexts and through using individual talks, presentations and group discussions. This range of sources will provide evidence about their confidence, their increasing awareness of others in sustaining interactions, the clarity of their ideas and expression and their skills in listening to others and taking turns.

Learners' enthusiasm and motivation for using language will show in their growing use of different media and texts, their preferences in reading, their confidence in sharing experiences through talk and writing and in the ways they apply their skills in their learning and communicating. These aspects will be indicators of their long-term success in using literacy in learning in their lives as citizens and in preparing for the world of work.

Where do I begin?

You might begin by asking yourself to what extent you already provide literacy experiences for learners. As a first step, you might want to consider the ways in which you use listening, talking, reading and writing for learning day to day in your teaching programmes. For example, do you provide learners with opportunities to:

Listening and talking for learning

  • engage with others in group and class discussions of appropriate complexity?
  • learn collaboratively - for example, when problem solving?
  • explain their thinking to others?
  • explore factors which influence them and persuade them in order to help them think about the reliability of information?

Reading for learning

  • find, select, sort, summarise and link information from a variety of sources?
  • consider the purpose and main concerns in texts, and understand the differences between fact and opinion?
  • discuss similarities and differences between texts?

Writing for learning

  • make notes, develop ideas and acknowledge sources in written work?
  • develop and use effective vocabulary?
  • create texts - for example, presentations - which allow learners to persuade/argue/explore ideas?

Where you answer 'yes' to these questions, you are contributing to the development of the literacy of the learners for whom you are responsible.

You will see that literacy is already reflected within the experiences and outcomes of the other curriculum area frameworks. It is important to use the literacy experiences and outcomes alongside those of the other curriculum areas when planning for learning.

What is meant by 'texts'?

It follows that the definition of 'texts' also needs to be broad and future proof. Therefore, within Curriculum for Excellence:

"... a text is the medium through which ideas, experiences, opinions and information can be communicated."

Reading and responding to literature and other texts play a central role in the development of learners' knowledge and understanding. Texts not only include those presented in traditional written or print form, but also orally, electronically or on film. Texts can be in continuous form, including traditional formal prose, or non-continuous, for example charts and graphs. The literacy framework reflects the increased use of multimodal texts, digital communication, social networking and the other forms of electronic communication encountered by children and young people in their daily lives. It recognises that the skills which children and young people need to learn to read these texts differ from the skills they need for reading continuous prose. Examples are given below.

Examples of texts

novels, short stories, plays, poems
reference texts
the spoken word
charts, maps, graphs and timetables
advertisements, promotional leaflets
comics, newspapers and magazines
CVs, letters and emails
films, games and TV programmes
labels, signs and posters
recipes, manuals and instructions
reports and reviews
text messages, blogs and social networking sites
web pages, catalogues and directories

In planning for learning in any curriculum area it is important for practitioners to ensure that children and young people encounter a wide range of different types of text in different media. As they progress in their learning, children and young people will encounter texts of increasing complexity in terms of length, structure, vocabulary, ideas and concepts.

Numeracy across learning

Principles and practice

"All teachers have responsibility for promoting the development of numeracy. With an increased emphasis upon numeracy for all young people, teachers will need to plan to revisit and consolidate numeracy skills throughout schooling."

Building the Curriculum 1

All schools, working with their partners, need to have strategies to ensure that all children and young people develop high levels of numeracy skills through their learning across the curriculum. These strategies will be built upon a shared understanding amongst staff of how children and young people progress in numeracy and of good learning and teaching in numeracy. Collaborative working with colleagues within their own early years setting, school, youth work setting or college and across sectors will support staff in identifying opportunities to develop and reinforce numeracy skills within their own teaching activities.

What does it mean to be numerate?

Being numerate helps us to function responsibly in everyday life and contribute effectively to society. It increases our opportunities within the world of work and establishes foundations which can be built upon through lifelong learning. Numeracy is not only a subset of mathematics; it is also a life skill which permeates and supports all areas of learning, allowing young people access to the wider curriculum.

We are numerate if we have developed:

"... the confidence and competence in using numbers which will allow individuals to solve problems, analyse information and make informed decisions based on calculations."

A numerate person will have acquired and developed fundamental skills and be able to carry out number processes but, beyond this, being numerate also allows us to access and interpret information, identify possibilities, weigh up different options and decide on which option is most appropriate.

Numeracy is a skill for life, learning and work. Having well-developed numeracy skills allows young people to be more confident in social settings and enhances enjoyment in a large number of leisure activities. For these and many other reasons, all teachers have important parts to play in enhancing the numeracy skills of all children and young people.

Numerate people rely on the accumulation of knowledge, concepts and skills they have developed, and continually revisit and add to these. All practitioners, as they make use of the statements of experiences and outcomes to plan learning, will ensure that the numeracy skills developed from early levels and beyond are revisited and refreshed throughout schooling and into lifelong learning.

How are the numeracy experiences and outcomes structured?

The numeracy experiences and outcomes have been structured using eight organisers:

  • Estimation and rounding
  • Number and number processes
  • Fractions, decimal fractions and percentages
  • Money
  • Time
  • Measurement
  • Data and analysis
  • Ideas of chance and uncertainty.

All of these areas of numeracy will be familiar and all teachers will recognise how they impact on their own lives. Reflecting on this will help teachers to identify where opportunities may exist to develop numeracy for children and young people.

Mathematics is not my specialism. How will I contribute to the development of numeracy skills?

For individual teachers in secondary schools and other practitioners, it means asking the question, 'How am I meeting the numeracy needs of the learners in front of me?'. This does not mean that you will teach everything that a mathematics teacher develops but that you think of the numeracy experiences you can provide for young people. The greatest impact for learners will come where all practitioners, in all learning environments, include rich numeracy experiences as part of their day-to-day learning and teaching programmes.

You might begin by asking to what extent you already provide numeracy experiences for learners. As a first step, you may want to consider where numeracy plays a part in the aspects you contribute to the curriculum. Does your programme involve estimating, measuring, using and managing time, carrying out money calculations? Does it involve reading information from charts and tables or explaining consequences of actions? If it does, and you highlight this and build upon it in the learning activities, you are making a valuable contribution to developing numeracy in all learners.

What are the features of effective learning and teaching in numeracy?

The experiences and outcomes promote and support effective learning and teaching methodologies which will stimulate the interest of children and young people and promote creativity and ingenuity.

A rich and supportive learning environment will support a skilful mix of a variety of approaches, including:

  • active learning and planned, purposeful play
  • development of problem-solving capabilities
  • developing mental agility
  • frequently asking children to explain their thinking
  • use of relevant contexts and experiences, familiar to children and young people
  • using technology in appropriate and effective ways
  • building on the principles of Assessment is for Learning, including understanding the purpose and relevance of the activities
  • both collaborative and independent learning
  • making frequent links across the curriculum, so that concepts and skills are developed further by being applied in different, relevant contexts
  • promoting an interest and enthusiasm for numeracy.

Teachers will plan to establish and consolidate children's fundamental numeracy skills using imaginative, interactive approaches, so that young people develop a sound understanding of number. Through such approaches they will grow in confidence in recall and use of number bonds and multiplication facts, in their understanding of place-value, and in the application of mental strategies. Teachers will reinforce these skills continually throughout the education of each child and young person.

How can I promote progression in children and young people's development of numeracy skills? How do I know which numerical skills I should develop and that they are at an appropriate level?

Children and young people will most effectively develop their numeracy through cumulative growth in their understanding of key concepts and the application of their skills in new contexts. There are fundamental points of learning along these 'pathways of progression': these allow teachers to identify the progression within a child or young person's understanding and what his or her next steps in development will be. It is essential for teachers to work together to extend their shared understanding of progression.

The statements of experiences and outcomes do not have ceilings, so that all children and young people can be challenged at an appropriate level. Collaboration with colleagues in relation to pathways of progression will encourage a shared understanding of expectations of standards as well as effective learning and teaching within numeracy.

Shared planning for the contexts in which children and young people learn and apply numeracy skills is also crucial. Children and young people need opportunities to bring together different combinations of numeracy skills from the various lines of progression. High quality learning depends upon achieving a suitable balance between developing key facts and integrating and applying them in relevant and imaginative contexts.

Have we raised the bar in the expectations for numeracy?

Our expectations for numeracy are indeed higher than previously. This is because of the increasing recognition that we must raise levels of performance in numeracy and sustain them throughout lifelong learning. Many other countries are raising the numeracy performance of their children, young people and wider population. Scotland needs to perform at the highest level, so raising the bar in numeracy is important for each individual and also for the prosperity of the nation.

To support this, experiences and outcomes without ceilings should ensure young people are challenged at an appropriate level and are given the opportunity to progress at a suitably aspirational pace. The level of achievement at the fourth level has been designed to approximate to that associated with SCQF level 4.

This paper and the experiences and outcomes in numeracy provide a clear statement of the expectations that will support all practitioners in contributing confidently to the important responsibility which we all share for developing the numeracy skills of our children and young people.

What are broad features of assessment in numeracy?

(This section complements the advice for mathematics and numeracy.)

As numeracy is the responsibility of all staff, and because of the importance of numeracy across all aspects of a young person's learning, all staff should be clear about their responsibilities and their roles in the assessment of numeracy. Assessment will focus on how well children and young people can work with numbers and data and how well they can use them in their learning and lives, including preparation for future work. From the early years to the senior stages, and particularly at times of transition, it is vital to have a clear picture of the progress each child and young person is making across all aspects of numeracy so that further learning can be planned and action can be taken if any ground has been lost.

Teachers can gather evidence of progress as part of day-to-day learning both in mathematics classes and across the curriculum. The use of specific assessment tasks will be important in assessing progress at key points of learning. Children and young people's progress will be seen in their skills in using numbers to solve problems, in analysing information and in making informed decisions based on calculations. Approaches to assessment should identify the extent to which children and young people can apply these skills in their learning in and beyond the classroom, in their daily lives and in preparing for the world of work.

As children and young people gradually build up the concepts and skills contained in the experiences and outcomes, they will demonstrate their competence and confidence in applying them in a number of ways. For example:

  • Can they explain their thinking to show their understanding of number processes and concepts?
  • Are they developing securely the full range of the skills and attributes set out within the experiences and outcomes? As they apply these to problems, can they draw on skills and concepts learned previously?
  • As they tackle problems in unfamiliar contexts, can they confidently identify which skills and concepts are relevant to the problem? Can they then apply their skills accurately when working independently and with others, and can they then evaluate their solutions?
  • Are they developing their understanding of personal finance?
  • Can they evaluate data to make informed decisions?
  • Are they developing the capacity to engage with and complete tasks and assignments?

Assessment of numeracy across learning, within and outside the classroom, offers children and young people opportunities to practise and extend their skills, for example within enterprise activities, social studies, technologies and science.

Health and wellbeing across learning: responsibilities of all Principles and practice

"Learning through health and wellbeing promotes confidence, independent thinking and positive attitudes and dispositions. Because of this, it is the responsibility of every teacher to contribute to learning and development in this area."

Building the Curriculum 1

What are the main purposes of learning in health and wellbeing?

Learning in health and wellbeing ensures that children and young people develop the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes which they need for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing now and in the future. Learning through health and wellbeing enables children and young people to:

  • make informed decisions in order to improve their mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing
  • experience challenge and enjoyment
  • experience positive aspects of healthy living and activity for themselves
  • apply their mental, emotional, social and physical skills to pursue a healthy lifestyle
  • make a successful move to the next stage of education or work
  • establish a pattern of health and wellbeing which will be sustained into adult life, and which will help to promote the health and wellbeing of the next generation of Scottish children.

What are practitioners' roles and responsibilities for health and wellbeing?

Children and young people should feel happy, safe, respected and included in the school environment and all staff should be proactive in promoting positive behaviour in the classroom, playground and the wider school community. Robust policies and practice which ensure the safety and wellbeing of children should already be in place.

Good health and wellbeing is central to effective learning and preparation for successful independent living. This aspiration for every child and young person can only be met through a concerted approach; schools and their partners working together closely to plan their programmes for health and wellbeing explicitly, taking account of local circumstances and individual needs.

How is the 'health and wellbeing across learning' framework structured?

The framework begins by describing features of the environment for learning which will support and nurture the health and wellbeing of children and young people, including a positive ethos and relationships, and participation in activities which promote a healthy lifestyle. These statements are intended to help to inform planning and practice within establishments or clusters and also by individual practitioners.

In the version which summarises those aspects which are the responsibility of all practitioners, the framework continues with experiences and outcomes which include those in mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing, aspects of planning for choices and changes, and relationships.

Many of the experiences and outcomes span two or more levels; some are written to span from early to fourth because they are applicable throughout life. All of these should be revisited regularly in ways which take account of the stage of development and understanding of each child and young person and are relevant and realistic for them.

Health and wellbeing across learning: the responsibility of all practitioners

Everyone within each learning community, whatever their contact with children and young people may be, shares the responsibility for creating a positive ethos and climate of respect and trust - one in which everyone can make a positive contribution to the wellbeing of each individual within the school and the wider community. There are many ways in which establishments can assist young people. These include peer support, buddies, breakfast or lunch clubs, safe areas, mentors, pupil support staff, and extended support teams.

The responsibilities of all include each practitioner's role in establishing open, positive, supportive relationships across the school community, where children and young people will feel that they are listened to, and where they feel secure in their ability to discuss sensitive aspects of their lives; in promoting a climate in which children and young people feel safe and secure; in modelling behaviour which promotes health and wellbeing and encouraging it in others; through using learning and teaching methodologies which promote effective learning; and by being sensitive and responsive to the wellbeing of each child and young person. Practical responsibilities include understanding of anti-discriminatory, anti-bullying and child protection policies by all staff and knowledge of the steps to be taken in any given situation, including appropriate referral.

Partnership working

Children's and young people's learning in health and wellbeing benefits strongly from close involvement with children and young people and their parents or carers and partnership between teachers and colleagues such as home link staff, health professionals, educational psychologists and sports coaches. Partners can make complementary contributions through their specialist expertise and knowledge.

Effective partnership working:

  • engages the active support of parents and carers
  • reinforces work across transitions and planning across sectors
  • maximises the contributions of the wider community
  • draws upon specialist expertise
  • ensures, through careful planning and briefing, that all contributions come together in ways which achieve coherence and progression.

Personal support for children and young people

The health and wellbeing of every child and young person is greatly enhanced through the individual support and pastoral care which they receive through having an identified member of staff who knows and understands them and can support them in facing changes and challenges and in making choices. Members of staff are often best placed to identify even minor changes of mood in a child or young person which could reflect an important emotional, social or mental health issue with which that child or young person needs help or support. It is important that children and young people feel that they can share their anxieties with an appropriate individual who has the skills, rapport, responsibility and the time to listen and to help, or can identify appropriate sources of support.

What factors need to be taken into account in planning for health and wellbeing?

Children's capacities to learn are shaped by their background and home circumstances as well as by their individual development. Exposure to different social and environmental influences contributes to the way that attitudes, values and behaviours are formed. These in turn affect their ability to make and take decisions.

Progression and development in many aspects of health and wellbeing will depend upon the stage of growth, development and maturity of the individual, upon social issues and upon the community context. Teachers and other practitioners in planning together will take account of these factors, ensuring that experiences are relevant and realistic for the child or young person in his or her circumstances. Particularly within experiences and outcomes which span more than one level, careful planning will be required to ensure appropriate pace and coverage, and teachers and other practitioners will need to decide when and how the experiences and outcomes are introduced. The planning arrangements within which local authorities, schools and teachers work must ensure that these decisions are taken in the best interests of each child and young person and take account of his or her social and personal circumstances as necessary.

What are features of effective learning and teaching in health and wellbeing?

Effective learning and teaching in health and wellbeing:

  • engages children and young people and takes account of their views and experiences, particularly where decisions are to be made that may impact on life choices
  • takes account of research and successful practice in supporting the learning and development of children and young people, particularly in sensitive areas such as substance misuse
  • uses a variety of approaches including active, cooperative and peer learning and effective use of technology
  • encourages and capitalises on the potential to experience learning and new challenges in the outdoor environment
  • encourages children and young people to act as positive role models for others within the educational community
  • leads to a lasting commitment in children and young people to follow a healthy lifestyle by participation in experiences which are varied, relevant, realistic and enjoyable
  • helps to foster health in families and communities through work with a range of professions, parents and carers, and children and young people, and enables them to understand the responsibilities of citizenship
  • harnesses the experience and expertise of different professions to make specialist contributions, including developing enterprise and employability skills.

How can I make connections within and beyond health and wellbeing?

Whatever their contributions to the curriculum as a whole, all practitioners can make connections between the health and wellbeing experiences and outcomes and their learning and teaching in other areas of the curriculum.

Within health and wellbeing, physical education can build learners' physical competences, improve aspects of fitness, and develop personal and interpersonal skills and attributes in preparation for leading a fulfilling, active and healthy lifestyle. The Scottish Government expects schools to continue to work towards the provision of at least two hours of good quality physical education for every child, every week.

The diagram below illustrates the shared vision and common goal

shared vision and common goal