Attainment Scotland Fund evaluation: interim report (year 3)

Findings from the evaluation of Year 3 (2017-2018) of implementation of the Attainment Scotland Fund. 

1. Introduction and Methodology 


1.1. The Attainment Scotland Fund evaluation began in 2015 and follows the duration of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. An evaluation of the first two years of the ASF was published in March 2018. This evaluation report of the Attainment Scotland Fund (ASF) focuses on Year 3 of the ASF (i.e. 2017/18). 

1.2. This chapter provides detail on the aims of the evaluation, the overall approach and the structure of the Year 3 evaluation report.  


1.3. The evaluation aims to provide learning about the overall implementation of the ASF and the extent to which the aims of the ASF have been met. 

1.4. Evidence in relation to these aims has been gathered from a range of sources and evaluated against a set of agreed research questions (detailed below). 

1.5. The sources used to inform progress in Year 3 of the ASF are set out below. 

  • Administrative data: Information gathered as part of the routine organisation of the ASF provides data primarily on the funding local authorities and schools received.   
  • Challenge Authority progress reports: Analysis of mid- and end- year progress reports submitted by Challenge Authorities in March and September 2018.  
  • Local authority mini survey: In April/May 2018, all 32 local authorities were invited to take part in a short online survey. A total of 22 authorities responded, including all 9 Challenge Authorities. Questions covered their experience of the ASF and findings were published in September 2018.  
  • Headteacher survey: In Autumn 2018, an online survey was distributed to headteachers of schools receiving Challenge Authority, Schools Programme and Pupil Equity Funding (PEF). This was the third year of the survey and included a sample of schools in receipt of PEF only for the first time. A total of 553 schools responded to the survey, representing a 40% response rate. The full report from the survey has been published online.  
  • School Case studies: A total of 12 schools who volunteered to be involved in case study research were selected to capture a mix of schools on the basis of ASF support received, urban/rural classification and primary/secondary school. Each case study involved an interview with the headteacher and focus groups with staff in the school. The full report on the case studies has been published online. 
  • Quantitative data on attainment and wellbeing: Report draws on measures published in the National Improvement Framework Evidence Dashboard 2018. Analysis focuses on patterns of attainment within and across Challenge Authorities and, where possible, differences between Challenge and non-Challenge Authorities at an overall level. 
Data Source Coverage Years covered
Year 1 (2015/16) Year 2 (2016/17) Year 3 (2017/18)
Administrative data (financial information)  All Challenge Authorities, Schools Programme local authorities and schools receiving PEF
Challenge Authority Progress Reports All 9 Challenge Authorities 
Local Authority Mini Survey  Year 1: Responses from 6 of the 7 Challenge Authorities 
Year 3: Responses from 22 local authorities, including 9 Challenge Authorities 
Headteacher Survey Years 1 and 2: Headteachers of schools in Challenge Authorities and Schools Programme 
Year 3: Same as above plus sample of schools receiving PEF only   
School Case Studies 2 schools in Challenge Authorities, 2 in Schools Programme and 8 schools in receipt of PEF only  
Quantitative data on attainment and wellbeing  Analysis of attainment measures set out in the 2018 National Improvement Evidence report

N.B. Qualitative Research undertaken in 2017 has helped to inform ongoing analysis of recent evidence but has not formed a key data source for the time period covered in the current report. 

This report

1.6. This report focuses on how the ASF has evolved in Year 3 (i.e. 2017/18) of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. As such, findings highlighted in the report are mainly those that show any change in Year 3 from Years 1 & 2. 

1.7. Year 3 saw the continuation of Challenge Authority and Schools Programme funding. It was also the first year that schools had access to Pupil Equity Funding (PEF). The report therefore includes evidence on the evaluation of PEF for the first time, and considers any emerging differences across the three funding streams. 

1.8. The report is structured around the inputs, activities, short to medium term outcomes and long term impact of the Attainment Scotland Fund. 

Chapter 2 Inputs: Governance and Funding What did and didn't work well in the national and local governance and support as part of the ASF?
How much funding did local authorities and schools receive, to what extent did they consider it adequate, supplement it with other funding sources, and use it in accordance with the ASF’s requirements?
Chapter 3 Activities: Interventions and Targeting To what extent do stakeholders understand, engage and further the programme aims, and why?
What type of initiatives were organised and to what extent did they focus on literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing or other topics?
How were interventions targeted and to what extent did the interventions succeed in reaching the target groups?
Chapter 4 Short and Medium Term Outcomes To what extent did the interventions achieve their short and medium term outcomes?
To what extent did schools and authorities use data, analysis and knowledge of what works to drive improvements as part of the ASF?
To what extent has the ASF encouraged collaboration and why?
Did the ASF have any unintended consequences?
Chapter 5 Progress towards Long Term Impact  To what extent did the different types of interventions succeed in improving attainment and health and wellbeing, and why?
To what extent did the ASF contribute to an improvement in attainment and health and wellbeing, and a reduction of the gap between pupils from the most and least deprived areas?
To what extent are interventions sustainable beyond the four years of the funding?



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