Publication - Progress report

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

Published: 22 Mar 2021

This report presents the evidence of progress towards achieving this defining mission over the period of the parliament 2016-2021. In doing so it also acknowledges the disruptive and detrimental impact of COVID-19.

110 page PDF

4.0 MB

110 page PDF

4.0 MB

Contents
Closing the poverty-related attainment gap: progress report 2016 to 2021
Appendix 2: Profiles of the 9 Challenge Authorities

110 page PDF

4.0 MB

Appendix 2: Profiles of the 9 Challenge Authorities

Profiles of the 9 Challenge Authorities provided by Education Scotland Attainment Advisors

Summary of Progress – Clackmannanshire Council

The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) was launched in 2015 to help the Scottish Government achieve its vision of delivering equity and excellence in education. Clackmannanshire was identified as one of five original Challenge authorities.

The education service in Clackmannanshire Council is led by the Strategic Director (People). The service is responsible for the education of over 6717 school-aged children and 766 within its nursery provision. There are 18 primary schools, 3 secondary schools, 1 special school and 2 support services: 1 primary and 1 secondary. There are also 3 stand-alone local authority nurseries. Over 29% of school pupils in Clackmannanshire live in areas of highest deprivation as categorised by The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) deciles 1 and 2.

The authority has received Attainment Scotland funding through the Challenge Authority Programme (£7,985,703), the Pupil Equity Fund (£6,292,187), the Innovation Fund (£29,850) and the Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund £397,494), a total of (£14,705,234) over the period 2015 to 2020.

In the early years of SAC Clackmannanshire Council went through a period of significant political and strategic change. During the first year of the Attainment Challenge Clackmannanshire was part of a shared education service with Stirling Council. A new Clackmannanshire education service was established after this partnership ended in 2017. This early instability had a negative impact on the initial governance, focus, pace and direction of the education authority’s work in relation to implementation of SAC. The newly established senior education team in Clackmannanshire revised the initial plans to better reflect the needs of Clackmannanshire Council and to support their vision for education. In 2020 a new Strategic Director (People) and a new Interim Chief Education Officer were appointed.

In December 2019 Education Scotland published the inspection of Local Authorities How well is Clackmannanshire Council improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap? The authority was evaluated as making ‘satisfactory’ progress and the report identified the following key strengths:

  • The strong leadership of the Chief Education Officer, supported by her senior leadership team, who share a clear vision of the action which needs to be taken.
  • Education staff have been reinvigorated to make a positive difference for children and young people as part of the Clackmannanshire ‘family’.
  • Positive steps, including strong partnerships with universities, have been put in place to improve the use and analysis of data to measure the impact of SAC initiatives.

Aspects for development:

  • Continue to develop and strengthen joint working with partner agencies which is leading to improvement.
  • Ensure, as planned, implementation for the initiatives which are making the greatest difference to improving outcomes for learners.
  • Continue to develop and improve the sustainability element and exit strategies for Scottish Attainment Challenge and Pupil Equity Funding initiatives and improve governance arrangements.

In December 2020, the Education Scotland link attainment advisor worked alongside local authority project leads to analyse data and evidence of impact which identified the following key strengths:

  • A strong commitment to trauma informed practice evidenced by the investment, at all levels, in the Readiness for Learning (R4L) Programme. 1200 staff have received training and 2900 pupils have benefited from a range of R4L interventions. The programme has been influential in developing key principles and ‘non-negotiables’ which are now accepted as an entitlement for all learners across Clackmannanshire.
  • A sustained focus on improving health and well-being has resulted in improved social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people accessing the wellbeing workers who have been employed in targeted schools.
  • The intelligent use of a range of data is leading to increasingly more appropriate targeting of resources at local authority level.
  • An effective tracking system developed by the data analyst and the one to one support provided by the data coach is helping headteachers to identify and address poverty related gaps.
  • A strong emphasis on building the capacity of staff has resulted in improved practice. The Equitable Literacy Programme, for example, has improved approaches to reading across the authority. The Improving Outcomes Team have played a key role in supporting professional learning.
  • The continuing commitment to supporting parents and families through initiatives such as Talk Clacks, FLIC 1400 and school family learning programmes are positively influencing families and their capacity to support children and young people in their learning.

Next steps include:

  • It will be important that the recent more forensic targeting of SAC resources continues and is reflected at school level, particularly in relation to Pupil Equity Funding. This will ensure that all Attainment Scotland Funding is very clearly focused on improving outcomes for the children and young people impacted by poverty.
  • There has been an increased coherence between the various workstreams involved in the local authority SAC plan which has worked well. It will be important to develop a similar coherence between the various strands of Attainment Scotland Funding (SAC, PEF and Care Experienced Funding) within Clackmannanshire. A common governance structure for all three strands would help ensure all funded activities are very clearly focused, and result in, a closing of poverty related gaps across all sectors.

March 2021

Summary of Progress 2015-2020 – Dundee City Council

The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) was launched in 2015 to help the Scottish Government achieve its vision of delivering equity and excellence in education. Dundee City Council joined the Challenge programme in year 1 (2015-16).

There are 24,000 school age children and young people in Dundee and 43.8% live in areas of highest deprivation as categorised by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD ) deciles 1 and 2. Data from 2020 indicates that 37% of people in Dundee live in the 20% most deprived data zones in Scotland, only 65% of adults are in work, and life expectancy is the second lowest of any city in Scotland. There are 33 primary schools, 8 secondary schools, 1 special school and 1 off-site service for children with additional support needs. The Executive Director of Children and Families Services has overall responsibility for education, social work and community justice. There are two heads of service; the Chief Education Officer and the Chief Social Worker.

Dundee City Council has received Attainment Scotland funding through the Challenge Authority Programme (£25,851,375), the Pupil Equity Fund (£20,060,277), and the Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund (£871,506), a total of £46,783,158 between 2015 and 2020.

In 2015, Dundee City Council adopted an early intervention approach to achieve its vision for improving outcomes for children and young people affected by poverty. Eleven schools were initially targeted but this was quickly expanded to include all schools and sectors to ensure that equity is a priority for all. As a result of this expansion, there is a shared moral purpose and a collaborative ethos which underpins improvement.

The Education Scotland inspection report of February 2018, How well is Dundee City Council improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap? stated that the authority was making good progress. The report stated that Education Scotland was confident that the evidence and evaluation at that time indicated the following strengths:

  • Strong leadership of the children and families service which has recently improved the pace of change through increased awareness of the need for improvement and appropriate support and challenge within the system to deliver change.
  • Effective partnership working is providing a wide range of support for children and families and is leading to improvements in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.
  • A range of career-long professional learning opportunities is supporting practitioners to collaborate, to test out changes in their practice, to make better use of research and to develop further their knowledge and skills.
  • Improved self-evaluation which is being supported by the recently developed framework, trios of schools working together and more intelligent use of data and improvement methodology.
  • Very helpful advice to headteachers with regard to supporting them in their responsibilities with respect to PEF.

Aspects for development were noted as:

  • Continue to reduce the poverty-related attainment gap across all sectors, building on valuable lessons learned in the early learning and childcare and primary sectors and in health and wellbeing. In so doing, continue to raise the attainment of all children and young people in literacy and numeracy.
  • Review, based on evidence available, the number of initiatives that are being tested out and supported with a view to simplifying the landscape and gaining improved outcomes.
  • Continue to develop exit or continuation strategies for SAC funded initiatives in order to embed practice and to build on children’s progress.
  • Further strengthen the information provided to the Children and Families Services Committee to enhance scrutiny and transparency through, for example, providing more information on the funding provided and used, and an increased focus on progress against planned activity.
  • Building on the good start made, to develop further the role of school improvement partnerships, and using these as a mechanism to share good practice and collaboration of stakeholders across wider areas.

In December 2020, the Education Scotland link attainment advisor worked alongside local authority project leads to analyse data and evidence of impact, which identified the following key strengths:

  • The strategic direction provided by senior leaders consistently promotes the vision of the attainment challenge and there is a strong commitment from staff at all levels to improve outcomes for children and young people affected by poverty.
  • High-quality professional learning for leadership is strengthening capacity and supporting sustainability. Professional learning and support for teachers and early years practitioners is developing skills in the use of data, action research and improvement approaches. This is increasing agency, confidence and skills to address equity in the classroom.
  • More effective use of data is supporting authority officers, school leaders and practitioners to identify attainment gaps and evaluate progress at classroom, school and authority level.
  • Intervention programmes in the early years are delivering intensive, targeted support which is improving acquisition of early literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Literacy and numeracy attainment in P1, P4, P7 and S3 has increased over time. In primary, the poverty-related attainment gap has narrowed as a result of greater increases in the attainment of learners living in areas of highest deprivation.
  • A range of early intervention approaches to support wellbeing is having a positive impact on vulnerable young people by reducing anxiety, improving attendance and increasing engagement in learning.
  • Services created to assist in mitigating the impact of poverty on family life and on learning are providing effective support. For example, school and family development workers who are based in every primary school are playing a central role in strengthening relationships, improving parental engagement and facilitating family learning.
  • The significant drop in exclusions since 2014, when rates were double the national average, to primary exclusions falling below national figures in 2018-19.

Next steps identified include:

  • Embed systems leadership to enhance capacity at all levels, maximise progress and deliver the local authority’s vision for a transformational pace of change.
  • Build upon improvements in primary attainment and maximise attainment in the senior phase to ensure that young people affected by poverty achieve a breadth of skills, qualifications and achievements.
  • Continue to strengthen quality improvement approaches and effective use of data by building on existing capacity and embedding consistent systems and practices across the authority.
  • Utilise opportunities presented by entering the next phase of the attainment challenge to continue to review and streamline evidence gathering and evaluation across all SAC activity.

March 2021

Summary of Progress – East Ayrshire Council

The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) was launched in 2015 to help the Scottish Government achieve its vision of delivering equity and excellence in education. East Ayrshire was initially identified in 2015 to be involved in the Schools Programme and became a Challenge Authority in June 2016.

Over one third of all children and young people in East Ayrshire live in areas of highest deprivation as categorised by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) deciles 1 and 2. This is above the national average. There are 7 secondary schools, 40 primary schools and 3 special schools. The education service in East Ayrshire Council is led by the Head of Education. The service is responsible for the education of over 16,000 school-aged children and over 3,000 children between the ages of 0 and 5.

The authority was allocated Attainment Scotland funding through the Challenge Authority Programme (£14,434,854), the Pupil Equity Fund (£13,830,939), the Innovation Fund (£115,877) and the Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund (£723,629), a total of £29,105,299 over the period 2015 to 2020.

The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) leadership team was formed between May and September 2017. The East Ayrshire SAC programme is focused on three main workstreams: Literacy and Numeracy, Families and Communities and Leadership.

The Education Scotland inspection of local authorities (March 2019) How well is East Ayrshire Council improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap? reported that the authority was making satisfactory progress with improving learning, raising attainment and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap. The report stated that Education Scotland were confident that the evidence and evaluation at that time indicated the following strengths:

  • The commitment of senior leaders to understand the needs of local communities.
  • The recently refreshed leadership, which is providing greater clarity in the education service.
  • Partnership working, which is helping to develop successful family and community work.

Aspects for development were noted as:

  • Increase the pace of progress in closing the poverty-related attainment gap and improve approaches to using data to support this.
  • Approaches to sustainability should be more formally documented and shared with elected members to provide them with assurance that the most effective interventions provided through the Scottish Attainment Challenge are embedded within schools.
  • Improve rates of attendance and continue to reduce exclusions, while also addressing the variations in these between schools.

In December 2020, the Education Scotland link attainment advisor worked alongside local authority project leads to analyse data and evidence of impact which identified the following key strengths:

  • Through the clear commitment of senior leaders to understand the needs of local communities and supported by the work of the SAC leadership team there is an improved and shared understanding across the authority of the challenges faced by children, young people and families living in poverty. SAC funding has been a key driver for improvement across the local authority. Overall, the attainment of children and young people in East Ayrshire affected by poverty is beginning to improve.
  • The approach to targeting SAC resources was improved by widening the data set used to identify pupils and schools. In doing so, the pace and reach of the programme was accelerated.
  • Progression frameworks for literacy and English and numeracy and Mathematics were developed. In addition, the local authority has engaged well with the national quality assurance and moderation support officers (QAMSO) programme; good use of local expertise has linked this work to SAC priorities. As a result, there is now a strategic approach to planning for learning, teaching and assessment across the authority.
  • The increased availability of high quality professional learning for all practitioners with an explicit focus on pedagogy, raising attainment and improving outcomes for children and young people affected by poverty. The growing culture of professional enquiry has contributed to the development of a ‘leaders of learning’ approach to share practice and build capacity across the workforce. This approach has the potential to be a sustainable model to further develop quality pedagogy and andragogy across the local authority.
  • The professional learning networks established in the last two years to provide opportunities for learning and collaboration across all practitioners. These include those focused on self-evaluation, data training, Pupil Equity Fund (PEF) planning, School Improvement Planning (SIP) and Standards and Quality (S&Q) training. These professional learning networks have demonstrated early positive impact on school improvement. They are designed and delivered in consultation with a range of partners and all school leadership teams and are open to practitioners at all levels across the system.

Next steps identified include:

  • Through analysis and scrutiny of attainment data and SIMD profiles there is scope for further targeted support and professional learning to interrupt the cycle of deprivation in schools where there are persistent gaps and low attainment.
  • Action research/professional enquiry approaches within professional learning should be embedded authority wide. The data gathered from these approaches should continue to be used to inform professional learning requirements and to improve the design of targeted and universal support across the local authority.
  • Continue to embed the Professional Learning Framework to further increase teacher agency, collaborative working and supporting the development of leadership skills across the local authority Further articulation of SAC, PEFmand Care Experienced Children and Young People funding, including planning and evaluation, is required across the local authority to maximise impact.

March 2021

Summary of Progress – Glasgow City Council

The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) was launched in February 2015 to help the Scottish Government achieve its vision of delivering excellence and equity in education. Glasgow City Council has been part of the SAC since 2015.

Education services in Glasgow City Council is led by the Executive Director. The service is responsible for the education of 80,000 children and young people across the education authority. There are 110 childcare settings, 123 partner providers and early learning and childcare settings, 140 primary schools, 30 secondary schools, and 25 special schools and services. Over half of children and young people live in areas of highest deprivation categorised as Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) deciles 1 and 2.

Glasgow City Council has received Attainment Scotland funding through the Challenge Authority Programme (£40,497,213), the Pupil Equity Fund (£87,894,530), the Innovation Fund (£109,445) and the Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund (£5,371,032) over the period 2015 to 2020, a total of £133,872,220.

The Education Scotland inspection of local authorities (March 2019) How well is Glasgow Council improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap? reported that the authority was making excellent progress with improving learning, raising attainment and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap. The report stated that Education Scotland were confident that the evidence and evaluation at that time indicated the following strengths:

  • The very strong council-wide vision focused on reducing the impact of poverty on children, families and communities.
  • The relentless drive of the Executive Director in improving the educational outcomes of children and young people living in poverty in Glasgow.
  • The exceptional progress made in reducing the impact of poverty on the educational attainment and achievement of children and young people.
  • Outstanding approaches to career-long professional learning and leadership which have strengthened the skills and knowledge of staff and, as a result, improved children’s and young people’s attainment.
  • In-built sustainability through capacity building is at the heart of the professional learning approaches undertaken across the city. Education Services have strongly promoted the importance of long-term sustainability across all aspects of their universal and targeted approaches to permanently reduce the impact of poverty on outcomes for children and young people.

Aspects for development were noted as:

  • As planned, further refine the multi-layer self-evaluation approaches to continue to drive up standards.

In December 2020, the Education Scotland link attainment advisor worked alongside local authority project leads to analyse data and evidence of impact which identified the following key strengths:

  • The very strong council-wide vision focused on reducing the impact of poverty on children, families and communities. The work of Glasgow’s Improvement Challenge has remained a core priority across Education Services over the last five years and is promoted as ‘core business’ by the Executive Director. Staff at all levels work together to promote excellence, equity and empowerment across the city.
  • The exceptional progress made in reducing the impact of poverty on the educational attainment and achievement of children and young people. In primary schools there remains an attainment gap between those living in SIMD 1 and 2 and those living in SIMD 9 and 10, however, it is closing. In primary schools, children from the most deprived areas continue to perform above the national average for all Broad General Education National Improvement Framework measures. At senior phase, outcomes for young people have shown a very positive upward trend over the last five years. Overall, young people are leaving school with better qualifications particularly at SCQF Level 6. Glasgow City Council is mitigating the impact of poverty very successfully for its young people at the senior phase across a number of measures.
  • Outstanding approaches to career-long professional learning (CLPL ) and leadership which have strengthened the skills and knowledge of staff and, as a result, improved children and young people’s attainment. The CLPL programme developed for Challenge Leaders of Learning has received accreditation from the General Teaching Council of Scotland and has had measurable impact on staff knowledge, confidence and learner experience across the city.
  • Education Services have strongly promoted the importance of long-term sustainability across all aspects of their universal and targeted approaches to permanently reduce the impact of poverty on outcomes for children and young people. The capacity building approach built within the Challenge Leader of Learning model ensures knowledge and skills are developed across staff teams and that leadership of learning is a responsibility of all teachers.

Next steps identified include:

  • Continue to increase curriculum for excellence achievement levels at all stages through increased levels of rigour, effective use of data and improved professional dialogue.
  • Continue to focus on assessment and moderation to increase and refine understanding of achieving a level in the broad general education to impact further on narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap.

March 2021

Summary of Progress - Inverclyde Council

The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) was launched in 2015 to help the Scottish Government achieve its vision of delivering equity and excellence in education. Inverclyde Council joined the Challenge programme in year 1 (2015-16).

The education service in Inverclyde Council is led by the Director of Education, Communities and Corporate Development, supported by two heads of service. The service is responsible for the education of over 11,000 school-aged children and just over 1,100 children between the ages of zero to five. There are 20 early learning and childcare settings, 2 schools and centres for children and young people with additional support needs, 20 primary schools and 6 secondary schools. Over 48.8% of children and young people live in SIMD 1 and 2.

The authority has received Attainment Scotland funding through the Challenge Authority Programme (£14,632,650), the Pupil Equity Fund (PEF) (£9,668,837) and the Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund (£387,643), a total of £24,689,130 over the period 2015 to 2020.

Inverclyde has taken a strategic approach to raising attainment for all, while closing the poverty related attainment gap. Interventions in the local authority’s Attainment Challenge Programme (ACP) were introduced with a ‘start small and grow’ approach. Initially 6 primary schools with the highest levels of children and young people living in areas of deprivation were identified to receive additional supports. This has grown to 12 over the life of the project with all 6 secondary schools joining the project in 2016/17. The authority’s SAC improvement plan was developed in partnership with headteachers and other relevant stakeholders and is closely aligned with the Children’s Services Improvement Plan.

The Education Scotland inspection of local authorities (October 2018) How well is Inverclyde Council improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap? reported that the authority was making very good progress with improving learning, raising attainment and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap. The report stated that Education Scotland were confident that the evidence and evaluation at that time indicated the following strengths:

  • The very strong vision and shared values which are ‘lived by all’ across the authority.
  • The influential leadership at all levels, from the Chief Executive, head of education through the central teams, and heads of establishments empowering staff to play their part in improving the life chances of children, young people and their families.
  • Sector-leading evidence-based professional learning resulting in a culture of strong reflective and confident practitioners.
  • Staff and partners working very effectively together to provide sensitive and well-judged support for children and young people, which is improving literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing outcomes.
  • Robust self-evaluation, supported by strong strategic governance, at the heart of Inverclyde Council’s practice

Aspects for development.

  • Continue to secure high-level outcomes for all children and young people.
  • Strengthen exit and continuation strategies for SAC initiatives.

In November 2020, the Education Scotland link attainment advisor worked alongside local authority project leads to analyse data and evidence of impact which identified the following key strengths:

  • The leadership approach taken by Inverclyde in supporting the aims of the SAC and its implementation.
  • Collaborative working across schools and between partners and schools is highly valued. This collaboration leads to improved outcomes for children. Highly effective professional learning has led to more skilled teaching. Through training and support in literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing the quality of teaching, learning and assessment has improved.
  • The use of data is now an integral part of school improvement and the local authority continue to prioritise the development of data literacy. Processes for data analysis supports the review of the poverty related attainment gap and inform decisions in addressing this gap.
  • Overall, there are improving trends in the attainment for children and young people in Inverclyde affected by poverty. Data shows improvement over time and the poverty related attainment gap is decreasing. Initial positive destinations for young people from areas of disadvantage in Inverclyde are improving and are above national levels. There are many factors which contribute to this including the work by staff funded by SAC across primary and secondary schools.

Next steps identified include:

  • Strengthen reporting of outcomes of PEFspend to ensure the impact of the fund is maximised.
  • Review care experience children and young people’s fund plans to ensure improved educational outcomes for this group of children and young people.

March 2021

Summary of Progress – North Ayrshire Council

The Scottish Attainment Challenge was launched in February 2015 to help the Scottish Government achieve its vision of delivering excellence and equity in education. North Ayrshire Council has been part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge since 2015 and receives funding as a Challenge Authority, through the Pupil Equity Fund and the Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund. North Ayrshire Council has received £43,177,412 over the last 5 years across these funding streams.

The majority of children and young people in North Ayrshire live in the 30% most deprived areas of Scotland with over a third living in the 20% most deprived. North Ayrshire has the second highest proportion of children and young people affected by socio-economic disadvantage in Scotland.

The Education Scotland inspection of local authorities (July 2018) How well is North Ayrshire Council improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap? reported that the authority was making very good progress with improving learning, raising attainment and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap. The report stated that HM Inspectors were confident that the evidence and evaluation at that time indicated the following strengths:

  • The central officer team’s drive, vision and capacity for continuous improvement, supported by strong governance structures, provide opportunities for innovation

within an appropriate framework of accountability at all levels

  • There are shared values and common purpose where school staff feel valued and very well supported
  • The very strong leadership of the Executive Director and leadership team is driving improved outcomes for children and young people
  • Partnership working within Scottish Attainment Challenge thematic workstreams is leading to improved outcomes for children, young people and their families living in the highest areas of deprivation
  • Very effective self-evaluation is leading to improved learning, raised attainment and a narrowing of the poverty-related attainment gap
  • Very strong approaches to staff development are evident across the whole authority led by the work undertaken by the PLA. The development of leadership at all levels is building leadership capacity across the authority

Aspects for development were noted as:

  • The authority should continue to build on identified areas of strong and sector leading practice
  • The authority should continue to engage a wider range of stakeholders, including parents and pupils, in self-evaluation, planning and governance of the Scottish Attainment Challenge across North Ayrshire Council
  • The authority should further strengthen the information provided to the cabinet to further enhance scrutiny and transparency
  • The authority should confirm formal exit strategies for Scottish Attainment Challenge workstreams as a matter of priority and share them with elected members to ensure sustainability

In December 2020, Education Scotland link Attainment Advisors worked alongside local authority project leads to analyse data and evidence of impact which identified the following key strengths:

  • The strategic leadership and governance approach taken by North Ayrshire Council has supported the Scottish Attainment Challenge vision and embedded practice across schools. A consistent approach has been adopted throughout the challenge with operational overview being provided by the head of service with senior managers leading specific workstreams. This approach has supported improvement, agility and sustainability
  • Continued development of the sector-leading professional learning academy is providing a range of high quality professional learning activities to practitioners in every school in the authority. This professional learning is helping to raise attainment, particularly for those most affected by socio-economic disadvantage
  • Innovation within the leadership workstream has resulted in improved leadership capacity across North Ayrshire and the development of a sustainable delivery model.
  • Nurture provision is well established within North Ayrshire and is providing robustly assessed and effective support for many of the authority’s most vulnerable learners
  • The work of the family learning team continues to develop a range of valued support to an increasing number of families most affected by socio-economic disadvantage
  • There are improving trends in the attainment of children and young people most affected by socio-economic disadvantage. In particular, young people living in areas of socio-economic disadvantage are achieving well in literacy and numeracy. The poverty related attainment gap has closed significantly for S3 learners

In line with national trends the attainment of children and young people in North Ayrshire who live in the 20% least deprived areas continues to be higher than those living in the 20% most deprived areas resulting in an enduring attainment gap. There are improvements in reducing the poverty related attainment gap and the authority is committed to making these improvements more consistent across all measures. Consequently, areas of development for the future include the following key points:

  • Continuation of North Ayrshire’s governance and implementation approach to support sustainability and prioritisation of initiatives. This may include building on existing approaches to renew the focus on identifying key gaps and objective evaluation of the impact of Scottish Attainment Challenge funded initiatives - including Care Experienced Children and Young People and Pupil Equity Funds - to ensure their impact on equity
  • Continue to deliver progress against key National Improvement Framework and local measures of the poverty related attainment gap
  • Continue to develop access to high quality learning and teaching including digital and remote learning approaches for every learner and particularly those affected by socio-economic disadvantage

March 2021

Summary of Progress – North Lanarkshire Council

The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) was launched in 2015 to help the Scottish Government achieve its vision of delivering equity and excellence in education. North Lanarkshire Council joined the Challenge programme in 2015.

North Lanarkshire has the 4th largest population of local authority areas in Scotland with 26% of children living in poverty compared to a national average of 24% (End Child Poverty local data 2019). Over 25% of all children and young people in North Lanarkshire live in areas of highest deprivation, categorised as Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), deciles 1 and 2. This is above the national average. There are 119 primary schools, 23 secondary schools, 23 council managed family learning centres and 13 special schools. There are approximately 54,000 children and young people.

The authority has received Attainment Scotland funding through the Challenge Authority Programme (£34,360,724), the Pupil Equity Fund (£35,581,137), the Innovation Fund (£32,800) and the Care Experienced Children and Young People Fun (£1,187,071), a total of £71,161,732 over the period 2015 to 2020.

The Education Scotland inspection of local authorities (July 2018) How well is North Lanarkshire Council improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap? reported that the authority was making good progress with improving learning, raising attainment and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap. The report stated that Education Scotland were confident that the evidence and evaluation at that time indicated the following strengths:

  • The clear vision and drive of the Assistant Chief Executive and her team, within North Lanarkshire’s one council approach to delivery of services, leading to improvement in outcomes for children across the SAC and Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) programmes.
  • The increasing use of data and developing approaches to self-evaluation were providing more rigorous evidence to plan and review SAC and PEF interventions.
  • Effective CLPL and strong support for families was resulting in improvement in aspects of attainment and closing of the poverty-related attainment gap.
  • The work of the educational psychology service, within the SAC programme, was having a significant impact on improved outcomes for targeted groups of children and young people.

Aspects for development were noted as:

  • Further develop the Continuous Improvement Service to maximise consistency of support and challenge for SAC and PEF.
  • Build on the positive start made to closing the poverty-related attainment gap for children and young people as they progress through their learning.
  • Strengthen the positive engagement of elected members in working for better outcomes for children and young people across North Lanarkshire Council by continuing to provide relevant information to the Education Committee on the funding provided, and progress of Scottish Attainment Challenge and Pupil Equity Fund.

In December 2020, the Education Scotland link attainment advisor worked alongside local authority project leads to analyse data and evidence of impact which identified the following key strengths:

  • An increased understanding and use of attainment data to support decisions around identifying targeted groups and the measurement of targeted interventions.
  • A new leadership framework, endorsed by Education Scotland, has been developed and includes leadership programmes for new or aspiring principal teachers, depute headteachers and headteachers. This approach aims to ensure long term sustainability and with less dependency on outsourcing.
  • Approaches to empowerment, including ‘family groups’ and the recently developed ‘Empowering Clusters’ operating model, which are focussed on attainment and equity.
  • Approaches to learning and teaching which have resulted in an overall improving trend in the attainment for children and young people in North Lanarkshire affected by poverty. The data shows improvement over time and the poverty related attainment gap shows a steady decrease.
  • The positive impact of the community learning and development team on young people and adults from the most deprived communities.
  • The Winter Leavers Pathways Programme was introduced in 2019-20 and supported 90 young people most at risk of disengaging from learning into a positive post-school destination.
  • The work of the North Lanarkshire Psychological Service around health and wellbeing.
  • The development of North Lanarkshire’s Virtual School which provides additional educational support for care experienced children.
  • A number of headteachers require support in developing a rationale for use of PEF, based on a clear contextual analysis which addresses attainment, attendance, exclusion, participation and engagement.
  • At a strategic level, it is important that the various teams across the local authority work together to provide a coherent support for clusters and schools.
  • Ensure long term sustainability via the leadership framework whereby experienced and effective practitioners from within North Lanarkshire continue to develop and deliver professional learning sessions, with less dependency on outsourcing.
  • In order to optimise outcomes for care experienced children and young people, continue to develop the virtual school with particular focus on the partnerships between the virtual school and the young people’s base schools.
  • At a strategic level, continue to develop further guidance for school leaders to ensure consistently strong approaches to engaging with stakeholders.

Next steps identified include:

  • Building on the recent strategic realignment and refocussing of the SAC workstreams, continue to further develop integrative practice between services with a focus on increasing impact and sustainability including through PEF.

March 2021

Summary of Progress – Renfrewshire Council

The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) was launched in 2015 to help the Scottish Government achieve its vision of delivering equity and excellence in education. Renfrewshire Council joined the Challenge programme in year 2 (2016-17).

The education service in Renfrewshire Council is led by the Director of Children’s Services. The service is responsible for the education of over 27,000 children and young people between 3-18. There are 35 early learning and childcare establishments, 49 primary schools, 11 secondary schools and 2 special schools. 25% of children and young people live in areas of the highest deprivation, as categorised by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) deciles 1 and 2.

The authority has received Attainment Scotland funding through the Challenge Authority Programme (£17,797,657), the Pupil Equity Fund (£17,228,108), the Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund (£1,426,000) and the Innovation Fund (£275,000) a total of £36,726,765 over the period 2015 to 2020.

Since 2015, the authority has been committed to delivering the recommendations from its Tackling Poverty Commission. Renfrewshire Council joined the programme in 2015 as a School’s Programme Authority with five Challenge Schools. When the authority became a SAC Challenge Authority in June 2016, it was able to build on this foundation to develop its vision, values, and aims for SAC. The authority’s SAC improvement plan was developed in partnership with headteachers and other relevant stakeholders and is closely aligned with the Children’s Services Improvement Plan.

The Education Scotland inspection of local authorities (February 2019) How well is Renfrewshire Council improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap? reported that the authority was making excellent progress with improving learning, raising attainment and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap. The report stated that Education Scotland were confident that the evidence and evaluation at that time indicated the following strengths:

  • Very strong self-evaluation, informed by high-quality data resulting in very successful, evidenced-based universal and targeted interventions, which are securing improvement.
  • Highly effective leadership, shared vision and an ethos of empowerment of staff at all levels to improve outcomes for children and young people, their families and communities.
  • The outstanding impact of very high quality professional learning approaches, developed and delivered in collaboration with partners.
  • Renfrewshire Council’s excellent approach to Scottish Attainment Challenge governance, which is set within a well-defined accountability framework.
  • Significant year-on-year improvements in closing the poverty-related attainment gap across all key indicators in the broad general education across curricular areas.

Aspects for development were noted as:

  • As planned, continue to build on successes achieved to date in addressing the poverty-related attainment gap and continue with plans to develop the sustainability of initiatives beyond the life of the SAC programme.

In December 2020, the Education Scotland attainment advisor worked alongside local authority project leads to analyse data and evidence of impact which identified the following key strengths:

  • Well-structured programme management ensuring clearly defined approaches.
  • Partnership working to enhance impact including co-ordinated approaches in the sharing of data.
  • A sector leading approach to professional learning including a highly effective leadership programme and a programme for classroom assistants.
  • Evidence-based approaches to the teaching of literacy have led to delivery of a high-quality literacy curriculum.
  • Very good moderation activities provided across the authority.
  • Staff are skilled at recognising and addressing the impact of poverty on families.
  • Attainment in literacy and numeracy in the broad general education has improved over time and the authority continues to perform above national averages with decreasing poverty-related attainment gaps across stages.
  • Schools have been supported to deliver a Senior Phase which ensures appropriate pathways for young people and provides them with the opportunity to achieve a range of qualifications.
  • There has been an increase in positive destinations for leavers from areas of highest deprivation.
  • The views and voices of children and young people are shaping improvements across the authority.
  • The roles of inclusion support assistants and transition teachers have supported improved attendance, reduction in exclusions and transitions among targeted groups.
  • Almost all establishments in all sectors are fully engaged in Renfrewshire’s Nurturing Relationships Approach and there is a wide range of high-quality services and resources available to support the health and wellbeing of all children, young people and families.
  • The work of the Support to Promote Attendance/Attainment for the Care Experienced (SPACE) team is effectively improving attendance and health and wellbeing for care experienced children and young people.
  • The development of a parental engagement strategy has been a key focus to support establishments with their planning around parental engagement.
  • The authority’s approach to the use of data to inform all aspects of its work has led to the development of a positive data culture.
  • Increased opportunities to work in partnership within, across and outwith the workstreams including with a range of academic partners have been impactful.

Next steps include:

  • Establishing a ‘Virtual School’ approach towards supporting care experienced children and young people.
  • Continuing to develop collective impact approaches.
  • Continuing work to align systems and processes to ensure data accuracy through the ongoing data matching work.

March 2021

Summary of Progress - West Dunbartonshire Council

The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) was launched in 2015 to help the Scottish Government achieve its vision of delivering equity and excellence in education. West Dunbartonshire Council joined the Challenge programme in year 1 (2015-16).

The education service in West Dunbartonshire Council is responsible for the education of around 12,000 school-aged children and young people in mainstream education establishments and 187 who are engaged in alternatives to mainstream education. There are 21 council managed early learning and childcare centres, 10 partner providers of early learning and childcare, 2 special schools, 33 primary schools, 1 programme for young people whose needs are not being met by mainstream secondary schools and 5 secondary schools. Just under half of all children and young people live in the areas of the highest deprivation categorised as Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) deciles 1 and 2, which is well above the national average.

West Dunbartonshire Council has received Attainment Scotland funding through the Challenge Authority Programme (£10,597,759), the Pupil Equity Fund (£13,326,356), the Innovation Fund (£34,000) and the Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund (£869,360), a total of £24,827,475 over the period 2015 to 2020.

The Education Scotland inspection How well is West Dunbartonshire Council improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap? dated 1 May 2018 evaluated the authority as making very good progress with improving learning, raising attainment and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap. Particular strengths noted were:

  • Highly-effective leadership of the education service resulting in a clear shared understanding of the local authority context and vision for improving the life chances for all children and young people.
  • Staff and partners working effectively together to provide a wide range of support for children, young people and families which is leading to improvements in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.
  • Many children, young people and families demonstrate a strong desire to positively engage in new projects and different ways of learning leading to increased achievements and skills for learning, life and work.
  • Well thought-out strategic approaches to career long professional learning supporting practitioners to improve their practice through collaboration, engagement in research, critical reflection and skills development.
  • Self-evaluation, underpinned by a robust governance framework, as an integral approach to continuous improvement.

Aspects for development were noted as:

  • Continue to ensure self-evaluation provides clarity about which interventions add the most value to children’s and young people’s attainment and achievements and take steps to formalise exit or continuation strategies as appropriate.
  • Further strengthen the information provided to the Educational Services Committee to enhance scrutiny by elected members through, for example, an increased focus on actual progress against planned activity.
  • Building on the current good practice, improve planning with parents, carers and children and young people to ensure they are fully involved in discussions and decisions which affect their learning.
  • Monitor the workload and impact on headteachers and central staff, including in human resources, procurement and finance, of their work related to the SAC and Pupil Equity Fund to ensure there is capacity to continue providing the required levels of administrative and other support.

In December 2020, the Education Scotland link attainment advisor worked alongside local authority project leads to analyse data and evidence of impact which identified the following key strengths:

  • The authority strategy to deliver a system wide model of change and improvement, focussing on building capacity at all levels and in all sectors. This has improved the range of approaches being used to raise attainment and narrow poverty-related attainment gaps.
  • An empowered system of school improvement at all levels has generated a self-sustaining model of school improvement with education leaders supporting and challenging peers and colleagues to raise attainment and improve learning.
  • The conditions for effective collaboration and embedded use of data to improve outcomes have been created as a result of the foundations laid by the SAC work streams and projects.
  • Since the 2018 Education Scotland inspection initiatives continue to maximise progress and embed sustainable change.
  • A wider curriculum offering across establishments is in place with a focus on skills for learning and life enabling more young people to gain personal success and achievement.
  • The scale and reach of nurture has been increased across all establishments and sectors, which has impacted on positive reductions in exclusion rates.
  • Attainment of children and young people is showing trends of improvement with evidence of the narrowing of attainment gaps.
  • Provision of SAC projects has increased the range and scope of accessible activities and services to support improvement in outcomes for families.
  • The positive contribution played by the third sector family support and outreach workers is supporting children, young people and families with engagement, attendance, wellbeing and readiness to learn.

Next steps include:

  • Continuing to prioritise quality of teaching and learning to raise attainment and continue to narrow the poverty-related attainment gaps.
  • Advancing initiatives and projects to maximise attendance.
  • Continuous development of personalisation and choice in the curriculum matched to future workforce demands.
  • Continue to work with a range of multi-agency partners to identify interventions which focus on addressing identified needs of care experienced children and young people.
  • Build on local community approach to providing integrated services for children, young people and families.

March 2021


Contact

Email: ScottishAttainmentChallenge@gov.scot