Attainment Scotland Fund evaluation - families and communities: thematic evaluation report 2024

This report presents evidence from the evaluation of the Attainment Scotland Fund (ASF) to show how approaches to family and community support and engagement have developed and been embedded in schools and local authorities as a result of funding.

Annex A – Progress ‘stock take’ of evidence in relation to Evaluation sub-questions

In considering each of the sub-evaluation questions in turn, the following observations are offered on the basis of the evidence considered to date:

What has been learned about engaging with families and communities through the ASF?

Developing story of increased engagement and support over the years of the Fund. It is important to note a move from employment of a range of interventions to the consideration of wider and more systematically planned ‘approaches’ (local authority wide strategies or initiatives) was apparent. Evidence highlights that most local authorities currently have strategic approaches in place to support engagement with parents and families. This is most often driven by parental involvement and engagement strategies.

Evidence from Headteacher Survey and Local Authority Survey highlight how important meaningful engagement and focused support is with families with an increased focus on this area being evident over the years of the Programme.

It is clear from the evidence that support for and engagement with families and communities has gained increasing importance over the years of the Fund with local authorities and schools recognising that close relationships and tailored, meaningful support is critical in their work to close the poverty related attainment gap. It is important to note that the expansion of work in this area is both about the development of approaches over the years of the Fund - e.g. family learning/family link workers and teams, family learning approaches and also with what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic and the learning that emerged from that period.

What are the emerging impacts of engagement with families and communities as a result of the ASF? (e.g. improved understanding of families’ circumstances and additional support needs; improved understanding of local context)

There is strong evidence that family link workers and related teams have had considerable impact universally and for those specifically targeted with

local authorities reporting strengthened relationships between schools and with families and communities and increased awareness within schools of poverty and its impact on pupils. The benefit of schools increased contact with families is reported to build relationships and improve their understanding and identification of circumstances and needs.

Supporting and engaging with families and communities has shown the following positive impacts which includes a reduction in children and parents/carers stress, better skills acquisition, and a better understanding of children’s learning and more willingness to approach schools when there is a problem. There is also evidence of positive impacts on attendance and engagement.

The important role of the home learning environment and parents’ capacity to support pupils’ learning is also highlighted in the evidence.

What were the views of wider stakeholders (children and young people, families and communities, and third sector organisations) of approaches to engagement with and support for families and communities?

Evidence shows that all local authorities engage with other services and partners to varied degrees and there is evidence of a range of partnership agreements.

Evidence that many local authorities work closely with children and young people and families and communities to develop local authority wide engagement strategies. Evidence of consultation and ongoing dialogue.

The majority of local authorities have agreements with third sector partners and wider partnerships supporting this work with families and communities.

An area for ongoing thematic focus (Voice) - including the views of third sector organisations.



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