Attainment Scotland Fund evaluation: headteacher survey 2018
Headteachers’ experience of the fund, covering themes such as governance, planning and evaluation, impact and sustainability.
8. Pupil Equity Funding
8.1. Following the introduction of Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) in 2017/18, the 2018 survey is the first to include schools in receipt of PEF who are not also part of the Challenge Authority or Schools Programme streams. The survey also incorporated a more significant focus on schools' experience around application for and receipt of PEF. This gathered views on access to information and support around the development of school plans for PEF, on the implementation of PEF within schools, and on the processes around the allocation of PEF. This section summarises responses.
Developing schools' approach
8.2. Around 2 in 3 (66%) schools feel there was sufficient support in place to develop and implement their school plan for PEF. This represents a 10-point improvement on the 2017 survey (56% felt there was sufficient support in place). There is no significant variation in views across funding streams, but survey responses show some variation across geographic areas. In particular, headteachers of schools in areas defined as 'small towns' are less likely to feel they had access to sufficient support (49% compared to 69% of rural and urban schools).
8.3. There remains 1 in 4 respondents (25%) who feel there was insufficient support available. Written comments indicate this is most commonly related to a perception that schools had insufficient planning time for the 2017/18 allocation, including reference to spending deadlines from local authorities. Some felt this limited scope for more strategic planning. Respondents also referred to the substantial time commitment required for planning, implementation and ongoing evaluation of interventions. Comments also suggested there was insufficient support where schools experienced recruitment and staffing difficulties, and some wished to see more training and advice around budget management and tracking - including reference to a lack of clarity around costs at the planning stage.
Whether felt sufficient support to develop and implement school plan for PEF
8.4. In terms of information sources used by schools in developing plans for PEF, most respondents had used two or more specific sources. The most commonly used were local guidance published by local authorities (used by 89%), teachers within the school (84%), Scottish Government national operational guidance (76%), parents (75%) and the local authority (72%).
8.5. Results show some differences from the 2017 survey in use of specific information sources, the most significant being an increase in the proportion of schools consulting with parents when developing PEF school plans. Variation is also evident across funding streams; Schools Programme schools are more likely than others to consult Attainment Advisors, and less likely to consult the National Improvement Hub, local guidance and teachers.
Information sources used when developing plan for PEF
8.6. The great majority of schools have an implementation plan to manage PEF effectively (93%), and headteachers feel they have autonomy to develop PEF plans that are responsive to their local context and needs (89%). Very few respondents disagree with either statement.
8.7. These results are consistent across funding streams and other key respondent groups. However, there has been an 8-point increase since the 2017 survey in the proportion of headteachers who feel they have autonomy to develop plans based on local context and needs (from 81% in 2017 to 89% in 2018).
Views on development and implementation of PEF in school
8.8. Schools in receipt of Pupil Equity Funding alongside Challenge Authority or Schools Programme support were asked to reflect on the additional benefits of receiving both funding streams, and any additional challenges encountered. Responses are summarised below.
Benefits of PEF alongside CA/SP (n=185)
|Additional resourcing enables schools to build on CA/SP initiatives, target a wider range of pupils||49%|
|PEF provides greater autonomy and flexibility for schools, alongside more consistent authority-wide approaches||19%|
|Access to more partnership working, support and strategic input||8%|
|Funding additional CPD for teaching staff||6%|
|Able to extent support offered to parents and wider community||3%|
Challenges of PEF alongside CA/SP (n=144)
|Additional workload and management requirements||51%|
|Accountability for substantial additional funding, challenges around demonstrating impact||36%|
|Ensuring a coordinated approach across multiple initiatives, working with different planning structures/timescales||16%|
|Challenges around recruitment and procurement||11%|
Views on PEF processes
8.9. Finally in relation to Pupil Equity Funding, views are generally positive in relation to processes around the allocation of funding. A large majority feel that the process of receiving PEF is easy to understand (83%), and respondents also generally agree that the process of working out allocations has been transparent (71%). There is some variation in views across funding streams, with PEF-only schools and those in receipt of a lower PEF allocation typically less positive about the transparency of the allocation process. Schools Programme schools are most positive on this issue.
8.10. Views are more divided in relation to reporting requirements for PEF funding. More than half (58%) of respondents feel these are reasonable, but there remain nearly 1 in 5 (17%) who disagree. Views on reporting requirements are least positive amongst PEF-only schools (55% feel they are reasonable), and most positive amongst Schools Programme respondents (85%).
Views on processes around Pupil Equity Funding allocation
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