More of North Ayrshire's pre-school children are achieving their development milestones than ever before.

North Ayrshire's education chief Andrew McClelland told the council's cabinet last week: "This is the best performance recorded since the measure was introduced, with improvements made in all aspects of the early years milestone including literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.”

The proportion of pre-school children securing their targets increased from 79 to 81 per cent in 2022-23.

Despite a £1.1 million reduction in strategic equity funding, which is provided to local authorities as part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge, councillors heard North Ayrshire has continued to make good progress in closing the poverty related attainment gap following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The performance of North Ayrshire school leavers in attaining literacy at level four and level five displayed a positive five-year picture.

Local schools remain above or in line with the virtual comparator, the SWEIC  (South West Education Improvement Collaborative) authorities and the national performance in all five years of this analysis.

In 2022, North Ayrshire school leavers have outperformed all other comparators at both levels, with 95 per cent achieving literacy at level four or better and 84 per cent achieving literacy at level five or better.

The performance of North Ayrshire school leavers in attaining numeracy at those levels also displays a positive five-year trend.

For level four, 91 per cent of leavers achieved this which is the second-highest figure in the five-year trend. Similarly for level five, 71 per cent of leavers achieved this, which is also the second-highest figure in the five-year trend.

The attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged school leavers achieving at least one qualification at SCQF level five has reduced over the last three years.

The percentage point gap between learners living in the 20 per cent most deprived areas of North Ayrshire compared to all other learners is 10.9 percentage points in the most recently published data.

Meanwhile, the attainment gap in percentage points of school leavers living in the 20 per cent most deprived areas, attaining at least one qualification at level six, is lower in the most recent year than before the pandemic.

In 2022, 87 per cent of North Ayrshire’s care-experienced leavers attained at least one qualification at SCQF level four or better, the highest performance in the five-year trend. It was 62 per cent at level five.

Council depute leader Shaun Macaulay said:  “That is another really good report. It does highlight the challenge we have in North Ayrshire.

“The Covid pandemic and poverty disproportionately affects this area so we know the challenges we are up against.”