Closing the attainment gap

Headteachers signal progress.

Nine out of 10 headteachers (91%) say that a fund to help school pupils in the most deprived areas meet their full potential is making an impact.

A pre-COVID-19 evaluation of the £750 million Attainment Scotland Fund (ASF) covering 2018-19 has been published and aims to provide learning about the overall implementation of the fund and the extent to which its aims have been met.

The evaluation found that there has been a systemic change in culture and ethos with approaches to equity becoming more embedded within the school as a result of a greater understanding of the barriers faced by pupils and families from disadvantaged communities.

Also published, a Scotland-wide survey of more than 1,100 headteachers reported that approaches supported by the ASF are helping close the poverty-related attainment gap. The findings feed into the ASF evaluation.

Nearly all headteachers (98%) expect to see improvement in closing the gap over the next five years, a slight increase of three percentage points since 2018.

Education Secretary John Swinney said:

“It is extremely encouraging that the overwhelming majority of headteachers (91%) are noticing improvements in reducing the poverty-related attainment gap as a result of ASF supported approaches. This remains central to our plans and with the challenges presented by the current pandemic our efforts to deliver equity in education are more important than ever.

“Our policies have resulted in the highest level of education investment per person across the UK. This year alone we are investing a further £182 million through the Attainment Scotland Fund, and have confirmed that, for the first time, more than £250 million of Pupil Equity Funding will be made available to 97% of schools over two years in 2020/21 and 2021/22.

“Our commitment is a long term one and that is why we will extend the Scottish Attainment Challenge for a further year beyond this Parliamentary term at current funding levels for 2021/22.”


The Attainment Scotland Fund, established to support the Scottish Attainment Challenge in 2015, aims to reduce inequity for children across Scotland.  This is the publication of the third interim evaluation of the ASF covering year four.

The main ASF evaluation report draws on evidence from multiple sources, including the 2019 Headteacher Survey Report. The accompanying Technical Report sets out the technical aspects such as sampling, questions etc. 


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