Last Updated: Monday, March 05, 2018

Raising aspiration and attainment in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing at Canal View Primary School, City of Edinburgh Council

What is this?

​A description of the approach toward developing transformational change in Canal View Primary School. As a school in the Scottish Attainment Challenge, the adoption of a holistic approach to both targeted and universal interventions resulted in a significant rise in attainment.

Who is this for?

​Those working in the primary sector, including headteachers, teachers, practitioners and families in P1-P7.

How to use this exemplar to improve practice

The ideas incorporated in this short case study can be used to stimulate professional discussion around the development of a holistic approach to closing the equity gap. A strong thread through all innovations is distributed leadership and giving staff ownership of innovations.

Improvement questions

You may find the improvement questions useful to prompt discussion and reflect on current practice.

  • How well are we removing barriers to learning and ensuring equity for all?
  • How effective are we at nurturing creativity and innovation?
  • To what extent do we make effective use of our partners to provide opportunities for young people to develop literacy and creative skills?
  • How well do we seek out and respond positively to potential partnerships which will lead to better outcomes for the children and young people we work with?


PDF file: Canal View case study

What was done?

Reaching out to national and local arts organisations, the school raised the cultural capital of pupils by introducing a stimulating programme of expressive arts initiatives. This is the school’s story of their own journey of transformational change.


Data analysis gleaned from self-evaluation audits identified a need to form an action plan to drive forward  improvements in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing to achieve equity and excellence for all. The school embarked on a journey of transformational change and began by identifying poverty related gaps in their school and the desire to raise aspirations for all pupils. This  included redesigning the curriculum and developing leadership for all.

What was the impact?

Through self-evaluation activity, staff identified gaps in children’s learning and attainment. Universal interventions included a range of new whole-school approaches.

Staff developed new teaching approaches to provide children with deeper learning experiences. Staff also developed their skills in action research approaches to help identify what was working well and learn from the new ways of working. These changes in learning and teaching helped children become more confident in their own abilities. They were able to express their own thoughts and ideas in a variety of written and dramatic forms to better effect.

The Nursery Project focused on using drama workers to model play with parents and toddlers.