1.1. This report presents findings from a recent 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 ASF.
1.2. This section summarises the background and objectives for the survey. The remainder of this report sets out the fieldwork approach, level and profile of survey response, and findings across the key themes addressed through the survey:
- Views on the Attainment Scotland Fund;
- Funded interventions and approaches;
- Use of data and evaluation;
- Impact and sustainability;
- Governance and administration; and
- Pupil Equity Funding.
1.3. The Attainment Scotland Fund was established to support the Scottish Attainment Challenge in 2015. The Scottish Attainment Challenge prioritises improvements in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing of children adversely affected by the poverty-related attainment gap in Scotland's primary and secondary schools. This built on a range of existing initiatives and programmes focused on raising attainment and reducing inequity for children in Scotland, and aimed to support schools, local authorities and partners to develop and deliver approaches tailored to their own circumstances.
1.4. The Attainment Scotland Fund consists of several strands of ASF funding including the Challenge Authorities and Schools' Programmes, Pupil Equity Funding, as well as a number of National Programmes. This funding is distributed in a number of different ways: via local authorities, directly to schools and directly to national organisations. In 2017/18 the three main strands of the Scottish Attainment Challenge supported by the ASF were:
- Challenge Authorities Programme. Provides targeted funding to the 9 local authorities with the highest concentration of pupils living in SIMD 1 and 2 areas. The local authorities develop strategic plans to drive forward improvements in their primary and secondary schools. Funding is provided via local authorities.
- Schools Programme. Funding to individual schools outwith challenge authorities, where 70% or more pupils live in SIMD 1 and 2 areas. Currently 74 schools across Scotland, with funding provided via local authorities.
- Pupil Equity Funding. Provides additional funding to schools on the basis of the number of primary 1 to S3 pupils eligible for free school meals - reaching 95% of schools across Scotland in 2017/18. Funding is provided via grant funding to local authorities.
1.5. These strands have developed over the period of the Scottish Attainment Challenge, with the Pupil Equity Funding being the most recent addition (in 2017/18). An interim evaluation of the first two years of the Scottish Attainment Challenge was published in 2018; drawing on, amongst other evidence sources, surveys of headteachers across Challenge Authorities and Schools Programmes undertaken in 2016 and 2017.
1.6. The figure below summarises development of the ASF, and surveys of headteachers conducted to date.
Attainment Scotland Fund timeline
1.7. Scottish Government commissioned the survey to include headteachers of schools in receipt of Challenge Authority, Schools Programme and/or Pupil Equity Funding. The overall aim is 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 includes 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.