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Attainment Scotland Fund evaluation: headteacher survey report 2019

This report presents findings from a recent survey of headteachers of schools in receipt of support from the Attainment Scotland Fund (ASF). This is the fourth survey of headteachers, previous surveys having been conducted in 2016, 2017 and 2018.


6. Pupil Equity Funding

6.1. This section summarises schools' experience around application for and receipt of PEF. This includes views on information and support available to support development of school plans for PEF, on the implementation of PEF within schools, and on the processes around the allocation of PEF.

Developing schools' approach

6.2. Nearly 3 in 4 (74%) schools felt there was sufficient support in place to develop and implement their school plan for PEF. This represented an 18-point increase on the 2017 survey where 56% felt there was sufficient support (66% in 2018). Views were broadly similar across funding streams, but there was variation across geographic areas. In particular, headteachers of schools in rural areas were less likely to feel they had access to sufficient support (66% compared to 78% of urban schools).

6.3. There remained around 1 in 7 (14%) who felt there was insufficient support available. Written comments indicated this was most commonly related to the substantial time commitment required for planning, implementation and ongoing evaluation of approaches.

6.4. This included reference to the administrative 'burden' associated with PEF and the development/implementation of approaches, and the time required for recruitment and procurement to support these. Some suggested there was insufficient support where schools experienced recruitment and staffing difficulties. It was also suggested that there was insufficient guidance and training available to support schools in budget management and tracking. This included reference to a lack of clarity around staffing and other costs at the planning stage.

Whether felt sufficient support to develop and implement school plan for PEF
Bar chart showing headteachers’ views on whether they felt there was sufficient support to develop and implement their school plan for PEF

6.5. The survey asked headteachers to suggest any additional support that would have been helpful for them in developing school plans for PEF. Qualitative analysis of these responses has been undertaken to identify the key supports mentioned by respondents. These are summarised below.

6.6. This analysis indicated that guidance, support and sharing of practice were the key areas where schools feel they would benefit from additional input. Around 3 in 10 of those providing comment wished to see more guidance and support in developing school plans for PEF, including specific reference to practical advice in development of plans and to identify specific approaches to closing the poverty-related attainment gap. The focus on practical advice was also evident in schools' wish to see more sharing of ideas and practice examples, and support for collaboration between schools (and other stakeholders). Sharing of practice and collaboration was mentioned by around 1 in 4 of those providing comment.

Guidance and support to develop plans, practical advice 30%
Sharing ideas and practice examples, supporting collaboration 26%
Guidance and support to use data and evaluate 19%
Clearer strategic direction 12%
Clarity on costs, support for financial planning 10%
Additional time and resourcing to develop plans 10%
Help with recruitment/ procurement 8%
More time, less admin and bureaucracy 4%
Greater autonomy 1%
N=420  

6.7. Most respondents indicated that they had used multiple information sources in developing plans for PEF. The most commonly used were teachers within the school (used by 78%), local guidance published by local authorities (77%), parents (75%), children and young people (65%) and Scottish Government national operational guidance (64%).

Information sources used when developing plans for PEF
Bar chart showing headteachers’ views of information sources used when developing plans for PEF

6.8. In terms of the process of developing school plans for PEF, the great majority of headteachers felt they had autonomy to develop PEF plans that are responsive to their local context and needs (91%). This view was broadly consistent across key respondent groups, and represents a 10-point increase since the 2017 survey in the proportion of headteachers who feel they have autonomy (two point increase since 2018).

6.9. Headteachers were also positive in their views on whether PEF had provided additional resource needed to address the poverty-related attainment gap; 86% felt this has been the case. Survey results showed some variation across key respondent groups, with PEF-only schools (particularly those with lower allocations) less likely to feel that PEF has provided additional resource.

Views on development and implementation of PEF in school
Bar chart showing headteachers’ responses (agree/disagree scale) to statement ‘As headteacher I have autonomy to develop a plan for Pupil Equity Funding taking account of the school’s local context and needs’Bar chart showing headteachers’ responses (agree/disagree scale) to statement ‘PEF has provided my school with additional resource needed to address the poverty-related attainment gap’

Views on PEF processes

6.10. Finally in relation to Pupil Equity Funding, views were generally positive in relation to processes around the allocation of funding. Most headteachers (62%) felt that reporting requirements associated with PEF were reasonable, and a similar proportion felt that timescales for planning for PEF have been sufficient (62%).

6.11. There was some variation across funding streams; PEF-only schools, particularly those in receipt of a lower PEF allocation, were less positive about reporting requirements and planning timescales.

Views on processes around Pupil Equity Funding allocation
Bar chart showing headteachers’ responses (agree/disagree scale) to statement ‘Reporting requirements associated with PEF funding are reasonable’ Bar chart showing headteachers’ responses (agree/disagree scale) to statement ‘Timescales for planning for implementation of PEF have been adequate’

Contact

Email: joanna.shedden@gov.scot

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