£50 million to close attainment gap

Hundreds of schools to benefit.

Primary and secondary schools will share £50 million in 2018/19 to help close the poverty-related attainment gap, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has announced. 

Nine local authorities and an additional 74 individual schools have again been allocated funding from the Scottish Attainment Challenge for initiatives targeted at children living in communities affected by high levels of deprivation.

This year, £170 million of investment has now been allocated from the £750 million Attainment Scotland Fund to support raising attainment in schools.

Announcing the funding, the Deputy First Minister visited Clydebank High School in West Dunbartonshire – one of the first local authorities to take part in the Scottish Attainment Challenge and described in a recent inspection report by Education Scotland as making “very good progress with improving learning, raising attainment and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap”.

Mr Swinney said:

“Improving the education and life chances of our children and young people is the defining mission of this government.

“Central to this is the Scottish Attainment Challenge which is supporting hundreds of schools to develop approaches to improve literacy, numeracy and health and well-being that raise attainment and help close the poverty-related gap.

“This investment is starting to make a real impact. In West Dunbartonshire, inspectors found that the attainment of children and young people is improving, with significant progress in the attainment of young people living in SIMD areas 1 and 2.

“And a recent evaluation of the fund found that three-quarters of school heads believe the attainment gap has started to close and almost all expect progress in the next five years.”


The Scottish Attainment Challenge is providing £750 million during the course of this Parliament to tackle the poverty related attainment gap. This includes the second year of Pupil Equity Funding and funding for the Challenge Authorities and Schools Programmes, which are now in their fourth year.

Schools and local authorities also have access to a network of Education Scotland Attainment Advisors to provide guidance and help share what is working well for children and young people with others across the country via the National Improvement Hub.

Over the last four years, West Dunbartonshire Council has been allocated £13.8 million from the Scottish Government’s Attainment Challenge Authorities programme, including £6.8 million Pupil Equity Funding over the past two years, to support young people from deprived backgrounds.

Projects have included a multi-agency hub at Clydebank High School which helps young people and their families to access extra support to help them overcome problems that might be stopping them from achieving well. Also funded are nurture classes to provide targeted support in literacy and numeracy and introducing Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) hubs across primary schools.

The Education Scotland inspection report stated the Council had made “very good progress” in raising attainment among the 12,180 school age pupils educated in the area and highlighted that at S4 and by S5 and S6 young people in West Dunbartonshire schools are, overall, attaining better than young people with similar characteristics being educated in other areas of Scotland.

Scottish Attainment Challenge Allocations:

Challenge Authority Allocations


18/19 Challenge Allocation





East Ayrshire






North Ayrshire


North Lanarkshire




West Dunbartonshire




 Schools Programme Allocations


18/19 Schools Allocation

Aberdeen City


Argyll & Bute


Dumfries & Galloway










Scottish Borders


South Ayrshire


South Lanarkshire




West Lothian





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