Closing the poverty-related attainment gap: progress report 2016 to 2021 - summary report

Closing the poverty-related attainment gap – a report on progress 2016-2021 assesses the progress that has been made through the Scottish Attainment Challenge towards closing the attainment gap. This summary report provides an overview of what that evidence tells us about the progress made.

Summary of key Messages

  • There is a strong body of evidence that shows good progress is being made towards closing the poverty-related attainment gap and that the SAC, supported by the £750 million ASF, is having a positive impact.
  • Almost nine out of ten schools reported that they have seen an improvement in closing the poverty-related gap in attainment and/or health and wellbeing as a result of ASF supported approaches.
  • A great majority of headteachers (96%) felt that they had a good awareness of the range of approaches that can help close the poverty-related attainment gap, while 93% felt confident about selecting the approach most effective for their school.
  • Over the first five years of the SAC programme there is evidence that almost all of the short and medium-term outcomes have been overtaken and there has been demonstrable progress on a number of long-term measures to close the poverty related attainment gap.
  • The attainment gap is closing, but it remains a long-term endeavour.
  • For primary school pupils, the attainment gap in literacy and numeracy has narrowed. (based on the combined P1,P4&P7 attainment since 2016/17)
  • For S3 pupils, the attainment gap in numeracy narrowed between 2016/17 and 2018/19.
  • The gap in the proportion of young people in education, employment and training has narrowed year-on-year between 2017 (11.5pp) and 2020 (9.9pp).
  • The most recent evidence from the International Council of Education Advisers (ICEA) acknowledged the progress that is being made in Scottish education to close the attainment gap through the SAC and wider education policies.
  • Whilst the attainment data indicates a variation in the pace of progress, the change in culture and ethos that is being seen, particularly in Challenge Authorities, with a stronger focus on poverty and equity, will maximise the sustainability of those improvements already achieved, providing solid foundations on which we can accelerate progress.



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