Attainment Scotland Fund evaluation - readiness to learn: thematic evaluation report 2024

This report focuses on readiness to learn, presenting evidence from the evaluation and telling the story of how the focus on readiness to learn has emerged, what we have learned to date and how we plan to progress this exploration in the evaluation going forward.


Readiness to learn is a new focus area for the Evaluation which has emerged during the refresh of the Scottish Attainment Challenge in 2022.

The identification of readiness to learn as a new outcome area in the revised Logic Model for the Scottish Attainment Challenge was developed through a process of extensive stakeholder consultation and collaboration, with outcomes proposed at both short- and medium-term in relation to children and young people’s readiness to learn through focusing on engagement and attendance, confidence and wellbeing.

The initial focus was to explore the concept of readiness to learn in the context of the Scottish Attainment Challenge, to use this exploratory work to develop proposals to deepen our understanding in this outcome area and to take this forward into considering how to include the concept within the ongoing ASF evaluation.

Children and young people’s perspectives of readiness to learn has been the initial focus, particularly in the context of children and young people affected by poverty.

There is evidence of readiness to learn as a feature of school and local authorities’ approaches in relation to the Scottish Attainment Challenge. For example, the Scottish Attainment Challenge Local Authority Leads survey 2023 identified that, amongst local authorities who responded to the survey, readiness to learn is a strategic priority for local authorities, and that Attainment Scotland Funding was viewed as being used to support the development of approaches to readiness to learn within local authorities. The survey provided examples of readiness to learn approaches supported through the ASF, with respondents frequently highlighting more than one aspect as supporting readiness to learn, for example attendance, the work of family link workers, and nurture.

The impact evaluation will draw on insights from the thematic focus on readiness to learn to inform the development of approaches to assessing improvements in readiness to learn in the context of the Scottish Attainment Challenge.

Annex B provides an overview of progress towards gathering evidence related to each of the evaluation sub-questions.

Next steps

Readiness to Learn continues as a thematic area of focus in ASF Analytical Plan Year 2 (2023/24), with a number of areas of exploration in progress or planned. This will support the ongoing focus in the impact evaluation to address the overall evaluation question:

‘To what extent was there improvement in children and young people’s readiness to learn through focusing on engagement, attendance, confidence and wellbeing?’

Further areas for exploration under consideration include:

  • Establishing a greater shared understanding of the term ‘readiness to learn’. For example, exploring what readiness to learn means to practitioners, to parents and carers has emerged during discussions within the ASF Evaluation Advisory Panel as an important aspect to explore.
  • How do readiness to learn approaches and initiatives differ eg in high poverty contexts, work within school and beyond school gates, by sector (for example work in early years or at transition into primary versus work in secondary schools), focus on working with pupils, with families and communities, and with teachers.
  • Through the lens of contextual factors in the SAC Logic Model. For example, exploring how much has this focus changed and why due to contextual factors such as COVID-19 recovery, cost-of-living crisis.
  • Potential to create a children and young people’s Logic Model which explores readiness to learn within the context of the Scottish Attainment Challenge.



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