A new report has revealed literacy and numeracy levels among pupils in Dundee high schools are slipping backwards.
The percentage of third year pupils reaching Curriculum for Excellence levels of achievement in reading, writing, listening and talking, numeracy and literacy, fell across all five categories between 2016/17 and 2017/18.
Twenty per cent of pupils did not achieve the expected level of numeracy while 16% of pupils did not reach the expected standard of literacy.
However, attainment levels for primary school pupils increased over the course of the year.
Labour group children and families services spokeswoman Georgia Cruickshank said: “This report does not make for very good reading.
“Our children deserve better than this.
“While the results for looked after children and in our primary schools are improving it is important we see improvements across the whole sector.”
She added: “The attainment challenge is having a good effect in some aspects of early years and primary provision but what about our secondary schools?”
Fellow Labour councillor Michael Marra added: “These figures are truly awful. We cannot allow a generation of children to be abandoned by our education system while we hope that investment in early years pays dividends in a decade.
“What we actually see is attainment and life chances being choked off by the disastrous handling of curriculum change by the SNP.
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“We will certainly not improve attainment by piling ever more work onto classroom teachers by scrapping department heads. The proposal for faculties should be abandoned now and the focus should be squarely on our children and their future rather than management tinkering. ”
But Children and Families Services convener Stewart Hunter said action is already being taken to raise standards in the city’s high schools.
He said: “One of the things about this report is that it is a year after the fact.
“We’ve done a lot of things since last year so we are hoping we will see some improvements from things we have done.”
“We are seeing improvements in primary schools but the secondary sector is an area we need to address.
“One of the things we are doing is introducing faculties – we are the only local authority in Scotland that doesn’t use faculties.
“We looked at what other authorities are doing and that was the first thing. It makes the management a little bit stronger.
“It means they (faculty leaders) are not just focusing on one area and frees teachers to teach.
“I appreciate there are implications for teachers and we have to work with trade unions to make any impact as minimal as possible.”
Mr Hunter said he wants to share best practice across the city’s high schools as well as widening the different options available to senior pupils such as increasing the availability of foundation apprenticeships.
There will also be a single city-wide schools’ improvement plan created.
He said: “Going to university is not going to be the best option for every pupil, which can leave them disengaged and reduce attainment.”
Mr Hunter added: “We are going to be doing better. We’re positive about what we are going to do but recognise that the figures from last year are not where we want them to be.”
The report, to go before councillors on Monday, also reveals the attainment of looked after children in Dundee has undergone a “notable improvement”.
Literacy and numeracy levels achieved in the latest figures for looked after children are at the highest level for five years.