£50 million to improve attainment

88% of headteachers see progress in closing the gaps in attainment and wellbeing.

Thousands of young people will continue to benefit from targeted funding to help close the poverty related attainment gap thanks to an additional £50 million in 2019/20.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed the funding as the results of a Scotland-wide survey of more than 500 headteachers showed almost nine out of 10 had seen improvement in closing the poverty related gap in attainment or wellbeing.

In addition to this increase of ten percentage points from the previous year’s survey, a further 95% expected additional improvement over the next five years.

The results also found:

  • improving teaching skills and practice were the most common focus for funding, with more than nine in 10 schools placing at least some emphasis on this area
  • nearly two in five headteachers (38%) have seen unintended positive consequences, with collaboration and partnership working, training and skills development and pupil and parent engagement being the most commonly reported improvements
  • the majority of headteachers (71%) report an increase in collaborative working as a result of the fund
  • almost nine in ten headteachers (89%) felt they have the autonomy to develop PEF (Pupil Equity Funding) plans that are responsive to their local context and needs

During a visit to Holy Rood RC High School to see first-hand how their Schools’ Programme funding is being used, Mr Swinney said:

“I welcome these survey findings which echo the promising early results we are already seeing in closing the poverty related attainment gap. This funding will enable that vital work to continue in the areas where it is needed most.

“We use a range of indicators to measure the attainment gap, including official statistics, which show an increase at all levels of attainment since 2009-10 but it is extremely encouraging that the majority of headteachers are noticing improvements in their own school communities too.

“I look forward to seeing how the schools and local authorities who will benefit from this additional £50 million use their allocation to ensure every child has an equal opportunity to fulfil their potential.”


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 Challenge Authorities Programme provides targeted funding to the nine local authorities with the highest concentration of pupils living in SIMD 1 and 2 areas.

The Schools Programme provides funding to individual schools outwith challenge authorities where 70% or more pupils live in SIMD 1 and 2 areas, currently 73 schools across Scotland.

Pupil Equity Funding is additional to schools on the basis of the estimated number of Primary 1 to S3 pupils registered for free school meals – reaching over 95% of schools across Scotland in 2019-20.

Evaluation of the Attainment Scotland Fund: Headteacher Survey 2018 and Attainment Scotland Fund Evaluation: School Case Studies.


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