National Mission to close attainment gap

Scotland's councils set out ambitions to help young people succeed.

Local authorities have published their plans for closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

Councils across Scotland have set their own “stretch aims” for children and young peoples’ progress in literacy and numeracy levels, for senior phase qualifications achieved, as well as for the number of young people participating in education, training, or employment.

For both overall attainment and in terms of closing the poverty-related attainment gap in literacy and numeracy, the collective stretch aims of local authorities demonstrate ambitions to work towards achieving the biggest two-year improvement recorded since the introduction of the Scottish Attainment Challenge.

This work will be supported by the Scottish Government’s £1 billion Scottish Attainment Challenge, with £43 million in Strategic Equity Funding allocated to local authorities this year. In total more than £130 million has been distributed to schools so far this year to help close the poverty-related attainment gap.

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“We are committed to substantially eliminating the poverty-related attainment gap and councils have a crucial role in driving this national mission forward at a local level.

“Given the effect of COVID-19 on children and young peoples’ achievement of Curriculum for Excellence levels in 2020/21, these collective aims represent significant local ambition for recovery back to and beyond the national position pre-pandemic, aiming to narrow the poverty related attainment gap by over seven percentage points in both primary school literacy and numeracy compared to 2020/21.

“These will drive an enhanced focus on outcomes for children and young people, ensuring they have the opportunities and support they need to reach their full potential.”


The new requirement follows wide-ranging reform of the Scottish Attainment Challenge, as set out last year by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Shirley-Anne Somerville.

The Scottish Attainment Challenge Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress, published in March 2022, introduced a requirement for local authorities to set ambitious stretch aims for progress in attainment and towards closing the poverty-related attainment gap in the 2022/23 academic year.

The local stretch aims represent key elements of local authorities’ ambitions for recovery and accelerated progress for the 2022/23 academic year.


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