£50 million to improve attainment

Schools and local authorities receive funding boost.

Pupils living in Scotland’s most deprived communities will benefit from targeted funding from the Attainment Scotland Fund to help close the poverty-related attainment gap.

Nine local councils with the highest concentrations of deprivation in Scotland, known as “Challenge Authorities”, will share £43 million of investment from the Attainment Scotland Fund.

In addition, a further £7 million will be shared from the Schools’ Programme between 73 additional schools with the highest concentration of pupils from areas of deprivation.

The £50 million is in addition to the £250 million Pupil Equity Funding package announced in May for the next two years and an investment of £9 million to provide 25,000 laptops to assist pupils learning at home.

To help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, schools and local authorities will have flexibility to redirect some of this Challenge Authority and Schools’ Programme funding from existing plans to best support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families, with a continued focus on equity in education.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“Closing the poverty-related attainment gap remains the defining mission of this Government and the challenges presented by the current pandemic mean that efforts to deliver equity in education are more important than ever. This funding will allow local authorities and schools to provide targeted help for some of our most disadvantaged pupils.

“I have given local authorities additional flexibility in how this funding is deployed in light of the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in. This will allow schools and councils to swiftly adjust plans and to work together to identify opportunities to undertake collaborative approaches in response to the current crisis. It is important that Headteachers continue to be directly involved in any decision made about the deployment of Schools’ Programme funding and Pupil Equity Funding.

“This work will be supported by our £9 million investment in 25,000 laptops and tablets to assist pupils learning at home.” 


Additional information on flexibility in the use of this funding for local authorities was communicated on 15 May.

The First Minister launched the Scottish Attainment Challenge in February 2015 to help close the poverty-related attainment gap in Scotland.

The Attainment Scotland Fund was established to support the Scottish Attainment Challenge in 2015.  This is a £750 million commitment over the course of this parliamentary term. The Attainment Scotland Fund is a targeted initiative focused on supporting pupils in the local authorities of Scotland with the highest concentrations of deprivation. The nine 'Challenge Authorities' are Glasgow, Dundee, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire, North Ayrshire, Clackmannanshire, North Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire and Renfrewshire.

The Schools Programme supports schools outwith these Challenge Authorities. These schools have been identified on the basis of supporting a significant proportion of pupils and families from communities which are facing some of the greatest challenges across Scotland. 

Breakdown of funding provided to Challenge Authorities:

Local Authority

2020/21 LA ASF Allocations





East Ayrshire






North Ayrshire


North Lanarkshire




West Dunbartonshire




Breakdown of funding provided via the Schools’ Programme:

Local Authority

2020/21 LA Level ASF Allocations

Aberdeen City


Argyll & Bute


Dumfries & Galloway










Scottish Borders


South Ayrshire


South Lanarkshire




West Lothian





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