Attainment Scotland Fund Evaluation - Headteacher Survey: 2020 report

The Attainment Scotland Fund Evaluation: Headteacher Survey – Full Report 2020 presents key findings from the fifth survey of headteachers of schools in receipt of Attainment Scotland Fund (ASF) support, covering the 2019/20 academic year including the period of school building closures from March.

1. Introduction

1.1. This report provides an overview of headline findings from the 2020 survey of headteachers of schools in receipt of support from the Attainment Scotland Fund (ASF). The survey was commissioned by Scottish Government’s Learning Analysis Unit to inform the wider evaluation of the ASF.

1.2. A shorter Topline Findings Briefing Report was published earlier in 2021, alongside Attainment Scotland Fund evaluation: fourth interim report and Closing the poverty-related attainment gap: progress report 2016 to 2021.


1.3. Launched in 2015, the Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) is supported by the £750million Attainment Scotland Fund with the strategic aim of closing the poverty-related attainment gap between children and young people from the least and most disadvantaged communities.

1.4. The Scottish Attainment Challenge and the ASF have developed and expanded since 2015, to include more children and young people, schools and local authorities. The ASF currently incorporates the following funding streams:

  • Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) provides funds directly to schools for headteachers to use at their discretion on initiatives that they consider will help close the poverty related attainment gap. Over 97% of schools in Scotland have been allocated funding, based on the estimated numbers of pupils in Primary 1 to Secondary 3 registered for free school meals.
  • The Challenge Authority (CA) and Schools Programmes (SP) provide additional resource to nine local authorities, and 73 schools out with those local authorities with the highest levels of deprivation. Each Challenge Authority/Schools Programme school receives funding and support to deliver improvement plans focused on literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing to tackle the poverty related attainment gap.
  • Care Experienced Children and Young People (CECYP) funding for targeted initiatives, activities, and resources, designed to improve the educational outcomes of this group.

1.5. As the Scottish Attainment Challenge has evolved, the focus of the evidence being collected through the Headteacher Survey has moved from primarily being about processes towards a greater focus on progress and impact of approaches being delivered. This evidence is helping to inform the progress being made towards delivering the long-term outcomes of the programme.

Study objectives

1.6. The ASF Headteacher survey is an annual Scottish Government commissioned survey which includes headteachers of schools in receipt of Challenge Authority, Schools Programme and/or Pupil Equity Funding. The overall aim for the 2020 survey was to build on learning from previous surveys to further improve operation of the ASF, and to maximise the impact of programmes supported by the Fund. This included the following specific objectives:

  • Provide insight on the experience of headteachers benefiting through each of the ASF streams, identifying any variation in experience or views across schools;
  • Build on longitudinal data to monitor changes over time; and
  • Provide evidence of what is working and what is not working well to inform ongoing delivery of the ASF.



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