Attainment Scotland Fund evaluation: headteacher survey 2018

Headteachers’ experience of the fund, covering themes such as governance, planning and evaluation, impact and sustainability.

4. Interventions and approaches

4.1. This section summarises survey findings on the interventions and approaches funded by the ASF. This includes an overview of the range of interventions used, schools' approach to planning, and how schools have targeted interventions.

Overview of funded interventions and approaches

4.2. Almost all survey respondents had interventions or approaches being supported by Challenge Authority, Schools Programme and/or PEF funding during 2017/18; 97% of all respondents indicate this (99% of those answering the question[2]). This finding is similar to previous surveys.

4.3. The survey asked respondents to list the ASF-supported interventions and approaches for their school during 2017/18. More than 250 schools provided details of their interventions and approaches, equivalent to 50% of those who indicated their school had interventions supported by the Fund in 2017/18.

4.4. Almost all of these schools referred to interventions and approaches across multiple curricular areas, the most common being those with a literacy focus (95% of those describing interventions). A large majority also referred to interventions with a numeracy and/or health and wellbeing focus (88% and 90% respectively). Over the page we provide a brief overview of interventions mentioned by respondents.

Overview of interventions/approaches supported by ASF

Numeracy approaches

Mentioned by 88% of respondents

Funding additional staffing or staff time (mentioned by around 1 in 4 respondents). Also reference to a focus on developing practice and pedagogy around numeracy through dedicated CPD, purchase of resources and digital learning, leadership development, parental/family engagement, collaboration within and between schools, and reference to a broad range of specific programmes and initiatives such as being SEAL, Sumdog, Number Talks and Number Box.

Literacy approaches

Mentioned by 95% of respondents

Funding additional staffing or staff time (mentioned by around 1 in 6 respondents). Also reference to developing practice through dedicated CPD, leadership development including Challenge Leaders of Learning, speech and language-focused interventions, purchase of resources, collaboration within school particularly to support CPD, parental engagement, and reference to specific programmes and initiatives including Reading Wise, Literacy for All, Rainbow Reading, Active Literacy and Read Write approaches.

Health/wellbeing approaches

Mentioned by 90% of respondents

Respondents are less likely to refer to having funded additional staffing or staff time (around 1 in 10). Most responses refer to specific approaches or initiatives, and the staff training and engagement with external agencies to support these. This includes reference to nurture-based approaches, outdoor learning, play-based approaches, counselling and therapist services, and family support and engagement.

Other approaches

Mentioned by 62% of respondents

Respondents referred to a broad range of other approaches and interventions, including a mix of specific initiatives and wider approaches or principles that apply across specific programmes. This was most commonly with reference to developing pedagogical approaches across the curriculum such as through visible learning or outdoor learning, family learning and engagement, whole-school approaches to encourage collaboration and sharing of practice, support for pupils with ASN, development of the learning environment including creation of new resources within schools, and developing use of data and evidence.


4.5. In terms of the planning of funded interventions and approaches, the survey gathered information on the extent to which interventions had been newly introduced or built on existing work, whether schools had stopped or were planning to stop any funded interventions, and schools' approach to planning where they receive multiple ASF streams.

4.6. More than half (56%) of schools indicate that most of their funded interventions were newly introduced during 2017/18. This is a 12 point increase on 2017, reflecting the inclusion of PEF-only schools in the present survey; 61% of respondents in receipt of PEF-only indicated that most interventions were newly introduced during 2017/18. In contrast, less than half of Challenge Authority (47%) and less than a third of Schools Programme (30%) schools indicated that most of their funded interventions were newly introduced in 2017/18.

4.7. Most schools in receipt of multiple ASF funding streams (i.e. PEF alongside Challenge Authority or Schools Programme funding) have a single school plan integrating approaches across funding streams. Around 3 in 5 (61%) indicate this, compared to 35% who had separate school plans for each funding stream. Challenge Authority schools who also receive PEF are more likely to have developed a single school plan; 64% compared to 34% of those in receipt of Schools Programme and PEF.

4.8. Around 1 in 10 (11%) of survey respondents indicated they had stopped or were planning to stop Challenge Authority or Schools Programme funded interventions, and 1 in 5 (20%) had stopped or were planning to stop PEF-funded interventions. Survey results indicate that Schools Programme schools are more likely to have stopped or expect to stop funded interventions; more than 1 in 4 have stopped Schools Programme funded interventions, compared to less than 1 in 10 stopping Challenge Authority funded interventions.

4.9. Written responses refer to a range of factors having influenced schools stopping or planning to stop ASF supported interventions. These are summarised below.

Lack of impact, including assessment of impact against cost 47%[3]
Reduction in funding or resourcing (inc staffing limitations and reduced PEF allocation) 23%
Change of focus over time (e.g. between literacy, numeracy and health/wellbeing) 8%
Consultation/feedback from pupils, parents or teachers 7%
Change of local authority strategy or priorities 3%



4.10. Survey responses indicate that most funded interventions are targeted specifically at the most deprived pupils and/or their parents. Around three quarters (73%) of schools indicate that most of their funded interventions are targeted in this way. Relatively few schools indicate that most of their interventions are targeted at all pupils, although most have at least some interventions with this broad focus. The survey indicates targeting of interventions varies somewhat across funding streams, most notably with Schools Programme respondents being more likely than others to specifically target the most deprived pupils and parents.

Targeting of funded interventions and approaches: pupils and parents

Targeting of funded interventions and approaches: pupils and parents

4.11. More than half of respondents (58%) have some or most interventions targeted in other ways. This includes respondents noting that SIMD targeting includes all or nearly all pupils, such that additional criteria have been used to prioritise resourcing. Others suggest that geographically-based SIMD measures do not capture the full range of disadvantaged pupils in their school, and highlight the role of local knowledge in targeting. For those using other criteria to inform targeting, these are summarised below.

Additional Support Needs 18%[4]
Attendance, engagement and risk of exclusion 17%
Attainment 12%
Looked after, care experienced pupils 12%
Adverse childhood experiences 8%
Pupils with English as an additional language 8%
A lack of family engagement 8%


4.12. The survey also asked about the focus of interventions in terms of the skills and capabilities they are seeking to improve. The survey provided a list of potential areas of focus, and these are summarised over the page.

4.13. Responses indicate that schools have a relatively broad focus, with the great majority referring to multiple skills/capabilities. Teaching skills and practice are the most common focus. More than half (57%) of schools report interventions with a strong emphasis on these areas, and more than 9 in 10 have interventions with at least some emphasis on teaching skills and practice. Other common areas of focus include teaching and learning resources, self-improvement and improvement planning, parental or community engagement, collaboration between staff and schools, the learning environment, and data skills and use.

4.14. A small number of respondents (around 1 in 20) mentioned targeting other skills and capabilities. These schools referred to interventions targeting a range of areas including attendance and disengaged pupils, school ethos and sense of community, partnership working, mental and physical health, digital literacy, assessment and communication.

Targeting of funded interventions and approaches: skills & capabilities

Targeting of funded interventions and approaches: skills & capabilities



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