Information

Pupil attainment: closing the gap

Scottish Attainment Challenge 2022/2023 – 2025/2026

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills set out to Parliament on 23 November 2021 plans for the Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) for 2022/23 to 2025/26. This aims to support recovery from the pandemic and accelerate progress in closing the gap.

This next phase of the SAC has been developed in partnership with and agreed by COSLA and builds on the evidence set out in the Scottish Government and Education Scotland 5 year report on progress towards closing the poverty related attainment gap, the Equity Audit, the Audit Scotland report on educational outcomes, and the OECD review. It will continue to provide support for children and young people impacted by poverty through funding to local authorities, Pupil Equity Funding, Care Experienced Children and Young People funding and a number of national programmes.  

This policy’s mission is to use education to improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty, with a focus on tackling the poverty-related attainment gap. In summary the plans are that with the support of £1 billion over this parliamentary term – increased from £750 million during the last parliament – the refreshed SAC programme, from 2022/23, will include:

  • an annual investment of up to £200 million in 2022/2023 to support children and young people impacted by poverty
  • continued empowerment of headteachers through Pupil Equity Funding as the primary model for distributing funding to the education system, with funding of approximately £130 million annually to be allocated to 97% of schools
  • continued investment to support Care Experienced Children and Young People (CECYP funding), contributing to keeping the Promise
  • the introduction of Strategic Equity Funding (SEF) of over £43 million, which will be distributed annually to every local authority based on Children in Low Income Families Data
  • investment in national programmes to enhance supports across the system, supporting a range of national initiatives such as youth work and mentoring and
  • a broader recognition of children and young people’s achievements and attainment through the refreshed mission

Funding allocations for PEF and SEF are confirmed on a multi-year basis until the end of the Parliamentary term, giving local authorities and schools certainty to support long term planning.

Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress

The Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress is designed to:

  • reinforce our collective commitment to equity in education, to mitigate the impact of poverty on children’s outcomes and tackle the poverty-related attainment gap
  • set high expectations, including annual, ambitious locally identified stretch aims, to help ensure significant progress is made in recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and in achieving the mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge
  • using existing improvement processes, as far as possible, in order to minimise additional bureaucracy and through local stretch aims, drive improved outcomes for children and young people and
  • and build on the continued commitment to empowerment for local planning and decision making, while ensuring strategic direction, support and challenge is provided by local authorities and national agencies

Related information:

Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress

The Scottish Attainment Challenge Logic Model

Strategic Equity Funding (SEF)

Strategic Equity Funding is provided through the £1 billion Attainment Scotland Fund to support education recovery and tackle the poverty related attainment gap.  All 32 local authority areas will have a clear role to play and will share £43 million annually, to invest in approaches to achieving the mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. Strategic Equity Funding allocations have been confirmed over the next four financial years, providing clarity to support strategic planning over that period.  SEF national operational guidance has been designed to support local authorities in planning for the use of this funding.

Related information:

Strategic Equity Funding: national operational guidance 2022/23

Local authorities

2022/2023

2023/2024

2024/2025

2025/2026 final

Aberdeen City

£473,825

£638,079

£955,190

£1,272,300

Aberdeenshire

£341,052

£678,005

£1,014,957

£1,351,910

Angus

£221,234

£439,809

£658,385

£876,960

Argyll & Bute

£142,162

£282,615

£423,068

£563,522

Clackmannanshire

£1,303,282

£1,034,744

£766,205

£497,666

Dumfries & Galloway

£324,859

£645,813

£966,768

£1,287,722

Dundee City

£4,993,490

£3,763,513

£2,533,537

£1,303,561

East Ayrshire

£3,127,507

£2,492,224

£1,856,941

£1,221,658

East Dunbartonshire

£133,802

£265,997

£398,191

£530,386

East Lothian

£200,099

£397,793

£595,488

£793,182

East Renfrewshire

£134,591

£267,565

£400,538

£533,512

Edinburgh City

£641,043

£1,274,381

£1,907,719

£2,541,058

Eilean Siar

£100,000

£100,000

£117,345

£156,302

Falkirk

£332,745

£661,491

£990,237

£1,318,983

Fife

£859,490

£1,708,651

£2,557,812

£3,406,972

Glasgow City

£7,806,164

£7,562,328

£7,318,493

£7,074,657

Highland

£895,005

£895,005

£1,280,783

£1,705,987

Inverclyde

£2,748,713

£2,030,319

£1,311,926

£593,532

Midlothian

£174,180

£346,266

£518,353

£690,439

Moray

£170,500

£338,950

£507,400

£675,851

North Ayrshire

£4,672,951

£3,578,650

£2,484,349

£1,390,048

North Lanarkshire

£6,454,948

£5,431,037

£4,407,126

£3,383,214

Orkney Islands

£100,000

£100,000

£109,992

£146,507

Perth & Kinross

£251,412

£499,802

£748,193

£996,583

Renfrewshire

£3,749,496

£2,940,992

£2,132,488

£1,323,984

Scottish Borders

£225,440

£448,171

£670,901

£893,632

Shetland Islands

£100,000

£100,000

£100,000

£105,660

South Ayrshire

£299,642

£435,211

£651,500

£867,790

South Lanarkshire

£1,472,616

£1,472,616

£1,857,809

£2,474,577

Stirling

£147,735

£293,694

£439,653

£585,612

West Dunbartonshire

£1,745,797

£1,447,779

£1,149,761

£851,743

West Lothian

£399,725

£794,646

£1,189,567

£1,584,488

Total LA allocations

£44,743,505

£43,366,147

£43,020,675

£43,000,000

Pupil Equity Funding (PEF)

The Pupil Equity Funding is allocated directly to schools and targeted at closing the poverty related attainment gap. 

Every council area is benefitting from Pupil Equity Funding and 97% of schools in Scotland have been allocated funding for pupils in P1-S3 known to be eligible for free school meals.

This funding is to be spent at the discretion of the head-teacher working in partnership with each other and their local authority, with PEF national operational guidance designed to help support those plans. Schools will now have their plans in place for using their funding and will be implementing those plans.

Related information

Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund

The Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund is also being provided to local authorities to enable them to target initiatives, activities, and resources, that will improve the educational outcomes of this group of disadvantaged young people. 

Up to £33 million from the Attainment Scotland Fund was made available over the previoius parliament.

This funding was distributed to local authorities, and directed by Chief Social Work and Education Officers, in conjunction with key planning partners to target this funding. The voices of care experienced children and young people are integral to this process. The funding benefits a wide group, with care experienced children and young people from birth to the age of 26, being eligible for the fund.

In addition to the funding provided in the previous parliament, over the 2021 to 2022 academic year local authority work to help improve the attainment of care experienced young people, including through mentoring programmes, will be supported with over £11.5 million, through the Care Experienced Children and Young People Grant.

The 2021/22 allocations are as follows:

Local authority

2021 to 2022 allocation

Aberdeen City

£428,400

Aberdeenshire

£338,400

Angus

£201,600

Argyll & Bute

£129,600

Clackmannanshire

£202,800

Dumfries & Galloway

£300,000

Dundee City

£355,200

East Ayrshire

£282,000

East Dunbartonshire

£124,800

East Lothian

£199,200

East Renfrewshire

£103,200

Edinburgh City

£922,800

Eilean Siar

£38,400

Falkirk

£298,800

Fife

£764,400

Glasgow City

£2,022,000

Highland

£382,800

Inverclyde

£181,200

Midlothian

£177,600

Moray

£157,200

North Ayrshire

£456,000

North Lanarkshire

£652,800

Orkney Islands

£25,200

Perth & Kinross

£232,800

Renfrewshire

£534,000

Scottish Borders

£153,600

Shetland Islands

£18,000

South Ayrshire

£235,200

South Lanarkshire

£634,800

Stirling

£212,400

West Dunbartonshire

£412,800

West Lothian

£348,000

Scotland Total

£11,526,000

Related Information

Assessment and evaluation of attainment

We will evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions made by schools via the National Improvement Framework: drivers of improvement. This details all the evidence we will gather to monitor progress.

School education statistics also provide comprehensive data on performance including pupil and teacher information, and attainment and qualification results.

Scottish national standardised assessment

Children in P1, P4, P7 and S3 will complete online standardised assessments in literacy and numeracy, aligned to the Curriculum for Excellence. The assessments help to identify children's progress, providing information to support teachers' professional judgement.

Find out more: Scottish National Standarised Assessment

Regional improvement collaboratives

Regional improvement collaboratives (RICs) are an initiative to ensure the provision of educational improvement support.

RICs will:

  • support teachers through dedicated teams of professionals, drawing on staff from Education Scotland staff, local authorities and others
  • provide focus through the delivery of an annual regional plan and work programme aligned to the National Improvement Framework
  • deliver collaborative working, including sharing best practice
  • be led by a regional director, appointed by the government, who will report to the HM Chief Inspector/Chief Executive of Education Scotland

The Regional Improvement Collaboratives focus on meeting local needs, putting Getting It Right For Every Child at the heart of their work and delivering a relentless focus on improvement.

They will ensure the provision of specialist support and advice across all eight curriculum areas particularly literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. They will also identify the particular areas for improvement within their region and ensure the interventions are put in place to address them.

Six regional improvement leads have been appointed and each collaborative will have a detailed improvement plan in place by January 2018. The improvement plans and the workforce plans will be agreed with the Chief Inspector of Education.

Advisory groups

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