Information

Attainment Scotland Fund evaluation: third interim report - year 4

This report focuses on the Year 4 (2018/19) evaluation of ASF across Pupil Equity Funding (PEF), Challenge Authority and Schools Programme Funding streams.


Chapter 5 Long-term outcomes: Contribution to Improvement and Reduction of the Poverty-related Attainment Gap, Sustainability, and Unintended Consequences

5.1 This chapter explores evidence around improvement in attainment and health and wellbeing, and the gap between pupils from the most and least deprived areas, whilst recognising it remains difficult to assess the specific reasons behind any observed improvement in attainment or closing the poverty-related attainment gap. Evidence of impact draws on both analysis of quantitative data on attainment and wellbeing, based on agreed measures for monitoring progress on closing the poverty-related attainment gap, and on reported impacts from survey evidence.

5.2 The first section provides analysis of quantitative data on attainment and wellbeing based on the measures for monitoring progress on closing the poverty-related attainment gap as set out in the National Improvement Framework.

5.3 The second section explores evidence of impact provided by local authorities and schools, based primarily on survey data drawn from the Headteacher Survey 2019 and the Local Authority Survey 2019.

Evidence of impact: attainment and wellbeing

5.4 Evidence of impact draws on analysis of quantitative data on attainment and wellbeing based on the agreed measures for monitoring progress towards closing the poverty-related attainment gap set out in the National Improvement Framework. This sets out a basket of key measures and sub-measures to assess progress. The measures with available data for this (and previous) reporting periods are shown in Table 5.1 below.

Table 5.1: National Improvement Framework Measures
  Measure Age group(s) Years reported
  Pre ASF 2014/15 Year 1 (2015/16) Year 2 (2016/17) Year 3 (2017/18) Year 4 (2018/19)
Attainment Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Levels P1, P4 and P7 S3
School leaver attainment in National Qualifications – SCQF Level 5 or better, 6 or better and 7 or better* School leavers
Annual Participation Measure 16-19 year olds
Health & Wellbeing Attendance rates Primary Secondary
Exclusion rates Primary Secondary

* Level 4 is not included within the attainment related measures – see Evaluation Strategy for Year 3 and 4 Table 2.1. Specifically it is 'the proportion of school leavers receiving 1 or more award at Level 5, and those receiving 1 or more at Level 6'.

5.5 Data is drawn from measures reported on in the 2019 National Improvement Framework Interactive Evidence Report. All of the measures are available at both Scotland and local authority level. Patterns of attainment in Challenge Authorities, who have been involved with ASF since 2015, and non-Challenge Authorities are outlined in this analysis.

5.6 To address the research questions, each of the measures outlined in the above table are considered in terms of:

  • Overall attainment
  • Attainment for pupils from most and least deprived SIMD quintiles
  • Percentage point gap between the most and least deprived

5.7 In addition, data for the following groups will be shown.

  • Each of the nine Challenge Authorities
  • Non-Challenge Authorities
  • Scotland Level

5.8 Previous ASF evaluation reports did not include changes over time for ACEL data at local authority level as the data was still in development. However, with the publication of ACEL data for 2018/19, the experimental label has been removed and therefore comparisons over time can be explored. It should be noted that the robustness and accuracy of ACEL data has improved over time, and this should be taken into consideration when making comparisons between years. It is also important to note in respect of ACEL and Senior Phase Attainment data that we are often talking about very small percentage point changes, which should be borne in mind when considering changes in attainment or closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

5.9 A range of additional factors influence the extent to which different measures provide us with an accurate and up to date assessment of progress:

  • There is a delay in terms of the progress of the ASF and the evaluation. The evaluation is retrospective, in that data reported has been collected for the previous year.
  • Some of the data is only available over a small time period, and therefore it is difficult to start ascertaining broader trends. In addition, data is not gathered at each year stage. For example, an authority/school could have been targeting P2 which would not be seen in ACEL for at least two years as this is only gathered at P1, P4 and P7.
  • The differential implementation of ASF at local authority/school level (based on the funding streams) also introduces a further level of complexity, and affects the extent to which meaningful trends can be inferred from the data. For example, it is notable that implementation in the secondary sector did not begin until Year 2 of the ASF.
  • The introduction of PEF in 2018/19 brings further complexity: the assessment of progress towards closing the poverty-related attainment gap based on comparison of Challenge Authorities versus non-Challenge Authorities was valuable in the early years of the ASF. However, by Year 4, such comparisons between Challenge Authorities and non-Challenge Authorities are not appropriate when assessing progress.

Primary school attainment

5.10 The attainment of primary pupils (P1, P4 and P7 pupils combined) for literacy and numeracy are outlined below, based on analysis of ACEL 2018/19 data.

5.11 In terms of primary school pupils' literacy and numeracy performance, Table 5.2 compares percentages between Challenge Authorities (Challenge Authorities combined and Scotland overall), from 2016/17 to 2018/19. As Table 5.2 shows, the proportion of primary pupils achieving the expected level in literacy has steadily increased in Challenge Authorities, from 67.5 per cent in 2016/17 to 69.1 per cent in 2017/18, and 70.8 per cent in 2018/19. Over the same period of time, this proportion has also increased in non-Challenge Authorities (70.1 per cent in 2016/17 to 73.0 per cent in 2018/19) and Scotland overall (69.2 per cent in 2016/17 to 72.3 per cent in 2018/19).

5.12 In terms of numeracy, the proportion of primary pupils achieving the expected level increased in Challenge Authorities from 74.8 per cent in 2016/17, to 76.8 per cent in 2017/18, and 78.2 per cent in 2018/19 and Scotland overall (76.4 per cent in 2016/17 to 79.1 per cent in 2018/19). Similar to literacy levels, there was also an increase in non-Challenge Authorities over the same time period (77.1 per cent in 2016/17 to 79.5 per cent in 2018/19).

Table 5.2: Challenge Authorities - Percentage of primary pupils achieving the expected level in literacy and numeracy, 2016/17 – 2018/19
Literacy Numeracy
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 Percentage point change between 2016/17 and 2018/19 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 Percentage point change between 2016/17 and 2018/19
Clackmannanshire 56.8 72.1 71.2 14.4 64.0 77.0 76.8 12.8
Dundee 64.6 65.5 71.8 7.2 70.2 73.8 77.7 7.5
East Ayrshire 61.3 58.6 65.0 3.7 67.3 68.0 72.5 5.2
Glasgow 68.4 68.8 68.9 0.5 76.8 77.8 77.1 0.3
Inverclyde 72.3 73.5 75.7 3.4 79.0 80.0 82.2 3.2
North Ayrshire 69.5 72.4 73.8 4.3 77.2 79.5 79.4 2.2
North Lanarkshire 67.6 69.0 71.1 3.5 74.0 75.8 78.7 4.7
Renfrewshire 72.7 76.4 76.1 3.4 79.7 82.8 83.7 4.0
West Dunbartonshire 63.7 66.8 68.2 4.5 72.1 74.0 76.2 4.1
Challenge Authorities 67.5 69.1 70.8 3.3 74.8 76.8 78.2 3.4
Non-Challenge Authorities 70.1 72.5 73.0 2.9 77.1 79.1 79.5 2.4
Scotland 69.2 71.4 72.3 3.1 76.4 78.4 79.1 2.7

The robustness and consistency of these statistics have increased over time. This should be kept in mind when making comparisons between years.

5.13 Tables 5.3 and 5.4 below show the size of the gap between the proportion of primary pupils (P1, P4 and P7 pupils combined) from the most and least deprived areas that have achieved the expected level in literacy and numeracy. For Challenge Authorities overall, the gap in literacy widened from 19.8 percentage points in 2016/17 to 20.9 percentage points in 2017/18, and narrowed to 20.2 in 2018/19. At Scotland level, the gap has narrowed between 2016/17 and 2018/19. The literacy attainment gap for non-Challenge Authorities narrowed from 24.7 percentage points in 2016/17 to 22.6 percentage points in 2017/18, and further narrowed to 22.2 percentage points in 2018/19.

5.14 For numeracy the gap widened slightly for Challenge Authorities overall from 15.8 percentage points in 2016/17 to 16.2 percentage points in 2017/18, increasing slight to 16.4 percentage points in 2018/19. At Scotland level the gap reduced between 2016/17 from 17.6 percentage points to 16.8 percentage points and remained at 16.8 percentage points in 2018/19. For non-Challenge Authorities the numeracy attainment gap decreased from 19.2 percentage points in 2016/17 to 17.9 percentage points in 2017/18 and increased slightly to 18.3 percentage points in 2018/19.

Table 5.3: Challenge Authorities - Percentage of primary pupils achieving the expected level in literacy, by local authority and deprivation, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19
Most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) Least deprived (top 20% SIMD) Percentage point gap
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 20/1617 20/1718 20/1819
Clackmannanshire 47.5 63.3 62.4 65.3 78.4 84.8 17.8 15.0 22.4
Dundee 58.1 58.9 65.5 75.0 79.8 84.5 16.9 20.8 19.2
East Ayrshire 49.8 47.4 54.6 77.1 77.1 77.2 27.3 29.7 22.6
Glasgow 64.1 64.5 64.5 86.5 84.9 85.4 22.3 20.3 20.9
Inverclyde 64.8 62.6 67.4 86.4 88.9 88.1 21.6 26.3 20.7
North Ayrshire 62.6 65.5 67.6 82.1 83.2 89.6 19.5 17.6 22.0
North Lanarkshire 57.7 59.8 63.0 78.2 83.1 81.7 20.5 23.3 18.7
Renfrewshire 62.7 67.6 66.2 84.6 85.6 86.7 21.9 18.1 20.4
West Dunbartonshire 59.2 60.3 62.2 71.8 81.4 75 12.5 21.1 12.8
Challenge Authorities 61.0 62.2 64.1 80.8 83.1 84.3 19.8 20.9 20.2
Non-Challenge Authorities 56.8 60.7 61.4 81.5 83.3 83.6 24.7 22.6 22.2
Scotland 59.3 61.6 63.1 81.4 83.3 83.7 22.1 21.6 20.7

The robustness and consistency of these statistics have increased over time. This should be kept in mind when making comparisons between years.

Table 5.4: Challenge Authorities Percentage of primary pupils achieving the expected level in numeracy, by local authority and deprivation, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19
Most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) Least deprived (top 20% SIMD) Percentage point gap
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Clackmannanshire 51.9 69.1 68.2 75.3 81.8 85.9 23.4 12.7 17.7
Dundee 65.7 68.7 71.8 76.6 85.3 88.0 10.9 16.6 16.2
East Ayrshire 56.8 58.8 62.7 78.4 81.7 84.1 21.6 22.8 21.4
Glasgow 74.0 75.0 73.7 91.4 88.9 88.6 17.4 13.9 14.9
Inverclyde 70.4 70.7 75.7 91.5 94.5 93.2 21.0 23.8 17.5
North Ayrshire 72.4 74.7 74.5 84.7 88.6 91.6 12.3 13.9 17.1
North Lanarkshire 66.0 68.3 72.2 85.0 87.8 87.2 18.9 19.4 15.0
Renfrewshire 70.3 75.0 75.7 89.4 90.4 92.9 19.1 15.4 17.3
West Dunbartonshire 68.0 67.4 71.1 83.1 87.6 88.0 15.1 20.3 16.9
Challenge Authorities 69.7 71.7 72.7 85.5 87.9 89.1 15.8 16.2 16.4
Non-Challenge Authorities 67.3 69.8 70.1 86.4 87.7 88.4 19.2 17.9 18.3
Scotland 68.7 70.9 71.7 86.3 87.7 88.5 17.6 16.8 16.8

The robustness and consistency of these statistics have increased over time. This should be kept in mind when making comparisons between years.

Secondary school (S3) attainment

5.15 S3 attainment in literacy and numeracy is outlined below, based on analysis of attainment across Challenge Authorities (combined), non-Challenge Authorities and Scotland, from 2016/17 to 2018/19.

5.16 As Table 5.5 shows, the proportion of secondary school (S3) pupils achieving the expected level in literacy has remained broadly the same in Challenge Authorities, from 87.2 per cent in 2016/17, to 87.1 per cent in 2017/18, and 86.9 per cent in 2018/19. Over the same period of time, this proportion has increased slightly in non-Challenge Authorities (87.1 per cent in 2016/17 to 88.4 per cent in 2018/19) and increased slightly at Scotland level (87.1 per cent in 2016/17 to 87.9 per cent in 2018/19).

5.17 From 2016/17 to 2018/19, the proportion of S3 pupils achieving the expected level in numeracy has increased slightly in Challenge Authorities (combined), from 86.6 per cent in 2016/17, to 87.2 per cent in 2017/18 and 87.3 per cent in 2018/19. Over the same period of time, this proportion has increased in non-Challenge Authorities (combined) (88.9 per cent in 2016/17 to 91.5 per cent in 2018/19) and at Scotland level (88.2 per cent in 2016/17 to 90.2 per cent in 2018/19).

Table 5.5: Challenge Authorities Percentage of S3 pupils achieving the expected level in literacy and numeracy, 2016/17 – 2018/19
Literacy Numeracy
2016/17 2017/18 2018/9 Percentage point change between 2016/17 and 2018/19 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 Percentage point change between 2016/17 and 2018/19
Clackmannanshire 80.1 83.4 82.8 2.7 64.1 80.4 77.3 13.2
Dundee 89.1 84.2 89.0 -0.1 83.7 80.5 84.9 1.2
East Ayrshire 82.1 82.6 78.6 -3.5 84.6 90.5 89.0 4.4
Glasgow 83.5 86.4 83.4 -0.1 85.8 84.3 86.0 0.2
Inverclyde 87.1 90.5 90.5 3.4 82.0 85.6 90.2 8.2
North Ayrshire 85.8 90.8 92.5 6.7 80.9 91.6 89.9 9.0
North Lanarkshire 91.6 86.7 87.9 -3.7 93.2 90.1 84.8 -8.4
Renfrewshire 91.8 93.7 95.2 3.4 92.8 92.9 94.7 1.9
West Dunbartonshire 88.7 83.4 83.5 -5.2 84.5 82.6 90.1 5.6
Challenge Authorities 87.2 87.1 86.9 -0.3 86.6 87.2 87.3 0.7
Non-Challenge Authorities 87.1 87.4 88.4 1.3 88.9 89.8 91.5 2.6
Scotland 87.1 87.3 87.9 0.8 88.2 89.0 90.2 2.0

The robustness and consistency of these statistics have increased over time. This should be kept in mind when making comparisons between years.

5.18 Tables 5.6 and 5.7 show the size of the gap between the proportion of S3 pupils from the most and least deprived areas that have achieved the expected level in literacy and numeracy, from 2016/17 to 2018/19, for Challenge Authorities (combined) and Scotland.

5.19 For literacy, Table 5.6 shows that the gap within Challenge Authorities (combined) widened from 11.3 percentage points to 12.8 percentage points in 2017/18, and further increased to 13.5 percentage points in 2018/19. For non-Challenge Authorities, the literacy gap narrowed each year from 2016/17 (17.2pp), 2017/18 (15.5pp) to 2018/19 (15.2pp). Literacy remained broadly stable at a Scotland level, with a slight narrowing from 13.6 percentage points in 2016/17 to 13.3 percentage points in 2017/18, followed by an increase to 13.8 percentage points in 2018/19.

5.20 As seen in Table 5.7, the gap in numeracy attainment between pupils from the most and least deprived areas has closed for Challenge Authorities (combined), and Scotland overall. For non-Challenge Authorities, the gap reduced from 16.4 percentage points in 2016/17 to 14.6 percentage points, and to 13.1 percentage points in 2018/19. The gap for Challenge Authorities reduced slightly from 13.9 percentage points in 2016/17 to 13.6 percentage points in 2017/18, and further narrowed to 13.3 percentage points in 2018/19.

Table 5.6: Challenge Authorities - Percentage of S3 pupils achieving the expected level in literacy, by local authority and deprivation, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 [8]
Most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) Least deprived (top 20% SIMD) Percentage point gap
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2017 2018 2019
Clackmannanshire 73.3 76.5 69.0 90-100 89-100 91.1 - - 22.0
Dundee 83.5 76.7 84.6 94.9 94.9 100 11.4 18.3 15.4
East Ayrshire 73.9 73.7 66.9 96.3 89.4 86.8 22.3 15.7 19.9
Glasgow 81.5 83.5 80.5 88.2 96.2 95.5 6.7 12.8 15.0
Inverclyde 83.3 87.7 85.7 90.9 93-100 94-100 7.6 - -
North Ayrshire 82.0 90.5 89.0 95.5 96-100 * 13.4 - -
North Lanarkshire 87.7 81.8 84.5 96.5 95.7 94.5 8.8 13.9 10.0
Renfrewshire 89.0 89.9 90.3 96.2 96.7 98-100 7.2 6.8 -
West Dunbartonshire 84.8 78.6 78.7 88-100 90-100 * - - -
Challenge Authorities 83.0 82.8 81.9 94.3 95.6 95.5 11.3 12.8 13.5
Non-Challenge Authorities 77.2 78.8 79.4 94.5 94.3 94.6 17.2 15.5 15.2
Scotland 80.7 81.2 81.0 94.3 94.5 94.7 13.6 13.3 13.8

* = suppression due to small numbers
- = unable to calculate figure due to suppression

The robustness and consistency of these statistics have increased over time. This should be kept in mind when making comparisons between years.

Table 5.7: Challenge Authorities - Percentage of S3 pupils achieving the expected level in numeracy, by local authority and deprivation, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 [9]
Most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) Least deprived (top 20% SIMD) Gap Percentage points
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2017 2018 2019
Clackmannanshire 52.7 79.2 61.4 81.3 89-100 89.5 28.6 - 28.1
Dundee 76.3 75.0 78.6 94.9 87.1 96.1 18.6 12.1 17.5
East Ayrshire 76.5 84.8 83.3 95.0 96-100 97-100 18.5 - -
Glasgow 83.5 80.4 83.8 96.0 96.3 97.2 12.5 15.9 13.4
Inverclyde 76.2 82.5 86.4 89.8 93-100 94-100 13.6 - -
North Ayrshire 74.7 90.9 86.8 94.0 96-100 * 19.3 - -
North Lanarkshire 88.6 84.9 76.7 98.2 96.3 93.6 9.6 11.4 16.9
Renfrewshire 87.9 86.6 90.8 97.5 98.3 98-100 9.6 11.8 -
West Dunbartonshire 77.6 75.0 84.7 88-100 90-100 * - - -
Challenge Authorities 81.5 82.0 82.6 95.9 95.6 95.9 13.9 13.6 13.3
Non-Challenge Authorities 78.9 81.1 83.3 95.3 95.6 96.4 16.4 14.6 13.1
Scotland 80.5 81.6 82.9 95.4 95.7 96.3 14.9 14.0 13.5

* = suppression due to small numbers
- = unable to calculate figure due to suppression

The robustness and consistency of these statistics have increased over time. This should be kept in mind when making comparisons between years.

Senior Phase attainment: percentage of school leavers achieving awards by SCQF level

5.21 The attainment of school leavers in Scotland is based on the Summary Statistics for Attainment and Initial Leaver Destinations, No. 2: 2020 Edition, published 25 February 2020. This data includes attainment in National Qualifications achieved throughout all stages of a pupil's schooling.

5.22 This section will consider the proportion of school leavers attaining one or more pass at SCQF Level 5 to 7 in Challenge Authorities (combined), non-Challenge Authorities (combined) and Scotland overall, from 2016/17 to 2018/19.

5.23 As seen in Table 5.8 the proportion of school leavers attaining one pass or more at SCQF Level 5 or better for Challenge Authorities (combined) slightly decreased in 2017/18 (84.8 per cent in 2016/17 to 84.2 per cent in 2017/18) before decreasing further in 2018/19 (83.7 per cent). A similar pattern was seen at Scotland level with a slight decrease in 2017/18 (86.1 per cent in 2016/17 to 85.9 per cent in 2017/18) before decreasing further in 2018/19 (85.1 per cent). Non-Challenge Authorities saw a slight increase from 86.6 in 2016/17 to 86.7 percent in 2017/18 and decreased to 85.6 percent in 2018/19.

Table 5.8: Percentage of school leavers achieving 1 or more passes at SCQF Level 5 or better, 2016/17 to 2018/19
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Clackmannanshire 79.4 76.1 78.8
Dundee 82.7 76.8 78.8
East Ayrshire 83.4 82.4 80.0
Glasgow 83.2 83.8 83.2
Inverclyde 88.9 89.1 89.5
North Ayrshire 84.7 86.2 83.3
North Lanarkshire 85.5 85.2 84.4
Renfrewshire 88.3 88.2 88.2
West Dunbartonshire 87.9 83.1 85.6
Challenge Authorities 84.8 84.2 83.7
Non-Challenge Authorities 86.6 86.7 85.6
Scotland 86.1 85.9 85.1

5.24 Table 5.9 shows the proportion of school leavers attaining one or more pass at SCQF Level 6 or better has seen a similar trend across Challenge Authorities (combined), and Scotland overall, from 2016/17 to 2018/19. This trend has featured an increase from 2016/17 to 2017/18, followed by a decrease in 2018/19. In Challenge Authorities, the proportion increased from 59.1 per cent in 2016/17 to 59.8 per cent in 2017/18, and decreased to 58.7 per cent in 2018/19. In non-Challenge authorities there was an increase from 62.1 per cent to 63.1 per cent in 2016/17 to 2017/18, and then a decrease to 61.3 per cent in 2018/19 (see Table 5.9).

5.25 As seen in Table 5.10, from 2017/18 to 2018/19, the proportion of school leavers attaining or more one pass at SCQF Level 7 or better for Challenge Authorities (combined), non-Challenge authorities (combined) and Scotland increased slightly in 2017/18 and decreased marginally in 2018/19. In Challenge Authorities, the proportion slightly increased from 15.4 per cent in 2016/17 to 15.9 per cent in 2017/18, and decreased to 14.8 per cent in 2018/19. In non-Challenge authorities there was an increase from 21.0 per cent to 22.0 per cent in 2016/17 to 2017/18, and then a decrease to 20.9 per cent in 2018/19. At Scotland level there was an increase from 19.3 per cent to 20.2 per cent in 2016/17 to 2017/18, and then a decrease to 19.1 per cent in 2018/19.

Table 5.9: Percentage of school leavers achieving 1 or more passes at SCQF Level 6 or better, 2016/17 to 2018/19
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Clackmannanshire 53.5 49.7 54.4
Dundee 58.1 48.9 53.6
East Ayrshire 58.4 60.5 58.1
Glasgow 55.9 59.6 58.5
Inverclyde 64.8 68.0 67.4
North Ayrshire 57.6 59.9 56.6
North Lanarkshire 59.3 60.7 59.0
Renfrewshire 65.6 65.7 63.1
West Dunbartonshire 64.2 57.6 58.1
Challenge Authorities 59.1 59.8 58.7
Non-Challenge Authorities 62.1 63.1 61.3
Scotland 61.2 62.2 60.5
Table 5.10: Percentage of school leavers achieving 1 or more passes at SCQF Level 7, 2016/17 to 2018/19
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Clackmannanshire 13.9 14.9 19.1
Dundee 15.9 12.8 14.4
East Ayrshire 15.0 16.9 15.4
Glasgow 13.7 15.0 13.7
Inverclyde 19.1 19.1 17.9
North Ayrshire 17.1 17.5 15.5
North Lanarkshire 13.9 15.2 12.3
Renfrewshire 19.2 19.3 20.6
West Dunbartonshire 16.9 14.8 14.3
Challenge Authorities 15.4 15.9 14.8
Non-Challenge Authorities 21.0 22.0 20.9
Scotland 19.3 20.2 19.1

5.26 At SCQF Level 5 (Table 5.11), the percentage point gap between the proportion of school leavers from the most and least deprived areas attaining one or more pass has reduced for Challenge Authorities and at Scotland level between 2017/18 to 2018/19. The gap widened for Challenge Authorities (combined) from 2016/17 to 2017/18 (18.3 to 18.8 percentage points), however it decreased again slightly in 2018/19 (18.5 percentage points). A similar pattern is seen at Scotland level with 19.3 percent in 2016/17 increasing to 20.3 percent in 2017/18, and slightly decreasing in 2018/19 to 20.2 percent. In non-Challenge authorities (combined), the gap increased from 21.7 percentage points in 2016/17, to 22.7 percentage points in 2017/18 and increased to 22.9 percentage points in 2018/19.

5.27 At SCQF Level 6 or better (Table 5.12), the gap between the proportion of school leavers from the most and least deprived areas that have attained one pass or more narrowed across Challenge Authorities (combined), and Scotland overall. In Challenge Authorities (combined), the gap declined steadily from 2016/17 (37.9 percentage points), 2017/18 (36.3 percentage points) to 2018/19 (35.2 percentage points). At Scotland level the gap narrowed slightly from 2016/17 to 2017/18 (37.6 to 37.4 percentage points) and closed in 2018/19 (35.8 percentage points). The gap widened in non-Challenge Authorities (combined) from 2016/17 to 2017/18 (40.3 to 41.1 percentage points), and subsequently decreased in 2018/19 (39.6 percentage points).

5.28 The gap at SCQF Level 7 (Table 5.13) or better for Challenge Authorities (combined) decreased between 2016/17 and 2017/18 and subsequently closed further between 2017/18 and 2018/19. The gap narrowed for Challenge Authorities (combined) from 2016/17 to 2017/18 (20.9 to 20.4 percentage points), and decreased again in 2018/19 (18.8 percentage points). A similar decrease between 2017/18 to 2018/19 was seen at Scotland level with 25.3 percent in 2016/17 increasing to 25.5 percent in 2017/18, before decreasing in 2018/19 to 23.7 percent. In non-Challenge authorities (combined), the gap reduced slightly from 26.8 percentage points in 2016/17, to 26.6 percent in 2017/18 and further to 24.3 percentage points in 2018/19.

Table 5.11: Challenge Authorities - Percentage of pupils achieving SCQF Level 5, by local authority and deprivation, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19
Most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) Least deprived (top 20% SIMD) Percentage point gap
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 20/1617 20/1718 20/1819
Clackmannanshire 63.6 64.0 64.2 96.6 95.0 94.5 33.0 31.0 30.4
Dundee 71.7 65.0 68.0 94.8 93.0 93.5 23.2 28.0 25.4
East Ayrshire 72.1 69.9 64.7 96.6 94.5 96.2 24.5 24.6 31.6
Glasgow 79.6 79.3 79.4 93.8 94.9 94.8 14.2 15.5 15.4
Inverclyde 83.6 83.4 82.3 94.9 95.4 96.3 11.4 12.0 14.1
North Ayrshire 76.1 79.8 74.6 96.1 97.7 95.5 20.0 17.9 20.9
North Lanarkshire 76.5 74.7 75.2 96.1 95.9 93.4 19.6 21.2 18.2
Renfrewshire 75.2 79.5 79.5 96.0 96.8 95.5 20.9 17.3 16.0
West Dunbartonshire 80.7 77.4 80.4 98.1 95.6 94.2 17.4 18.2 13.8
Challenge Authorities 77.3 76.7 76.2 95.6 95.5 94.7 18.3 18.8 18.5
Non-Challenge Authorities 72.8 72.6 71.6 94.6 95.3 94.5 21.7 22.7 22.9
Scotland 75.5 75.0 74.4 94.8 95.4 94.6 19.3 20.3 20.2
Table 5.12: Challenge Authorities - Percentage of pupils achieving SCQF Level 6, by local authority and deprivation, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19
Most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) Least deprived (top 20% SIMD) Percentage point gap
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 20/1617 20/1718 20/1819
Clackmannanshire 36.4 33.6 36.6 77.6 77.5 76.4 41.2 43.9 39.8
Dundee 42.3 33.3 39.0 82.0 75.5 75.7 39.7 42.2 36.7
East Ayrshire 38.2 45.3 39.5 84.2 82.8 80.6 46.0 37.5 41.2
Glasgow 48.6 51.3 51.7 82.2 87.4 83.3 33.6 36.1 31.6
Inverclyde 47.9 53.8 53.6 83.5 89.7 85.4 35.7 35.8 31.8
North Ayrshire 40.3 46.0 43.2 83.8 86.3 81.8 43.5 40.2 38.6
North Lanarkshire 43.5 45.0 42.7 82.8 83.1 83.2 39.3 38.1 40.5
Renfrewshire 41.0 47.9 43.6 84.1 84.4 82.1 43.1 36.4 38.5
West Dunbartonshire 53.2 46.9 46.8 88.5 80.0 88.5 35.3 33.1 41.6
Challenge Authorities 45.2 47.2 46.5 83.1 83.5 81.7 37.9 36.3 35.2
Non-Challenge Authorities 39.6 40.3 39.1 79.9 81.4 78.7 40.3 41.1 39.6
Scotland 43.0 44.4 43.5 80.6 81.8 79.3 37.6 37.4 35.8
Table 5.13: Challenge Authorities - Percentage of pupils achieving SCQF Level 7, by local authority and deprivation, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19
Most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) Least deprived (top 20% SIMD) Percentage point gap
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 20/1617 20/1718 20/1819
Clackmannanshire 9.3 6.4 9.0 22.4 22.5 30.9 13.1 16.1 22.0
Dundee 7.7 7.5 8.4 27.0 18.0 19.6 19.3 10.5 11.2
East Ayrshire 6.4 8.6 7.3 25.4 29.7 27.4 19.0 21.1 20.1
Glasgow 9.3 10.4 9.0 34.2 34.8 29.6 24.9 24.4 20.6
Inverclyde 8.8 9.6 7.2 34.2 37.9 34.1 25.4 28.3 27.0
North Ayrshire 9.9 9.0 7.8 31.2 35.9 27.3 21.3 26.9 19.5
North Lanarkshire 8.0 8.1 8.1 26.6 24.8 21.1 18.6 16.8 13.0
Renfrewshire 9.6 9.9 10.4 31.8 33.7 33.2 22.3 23.8 22.9
West Dunbartonshire 11.9 10.6 7.9 38.5 31.1 34.6 26.6 20.5 26.7
Challenge Authorities 9.0 9.4 8.5 29.8 29.8 27.4 20.9 20.4 18.8
Non-Challenge Authorities 7.7 8.8 8.8 34.5 35.3 33.1 26.8 26.6 24.3
Scotland 8.6 9.1 8.7 33.8 34.7 32.4 25.3 25.5 23.7

Annual Participation Measure

5.29 The Annual Participation Measure (APM) is another measure for considering progress in closing the poverty-related attainment gap, set out in the National Improvement Framework. Since August 2017 the APM has been the source of the National Performance Framework Indicator, 'Percentage of young adults (16-19 year olds) participating in education, training or employment'. It is produced by Skills Development Scotland and reports on the economic and employment activity of the 16-19 year old cohort. When considering the APM as a measure in the ASF Evaluation it is important to highlight that the ASF funding started in 2015, therefore a lag occurs between intervention at school level and impact on APM (mostly post school).

5.30 This section reports on the participation rate for Scotland overall and at local authority level. For school pupils, local authority relates to the location of the school they are attending. For those who have left school local authority continues to relate to location of their school up to 12 months after leaving, and thereafter the individual is reported against the local authority linked to their postcode.

5.31 All local authority level data disaggregated by SIMD is available online and therefore the focus in this report is specifically on the Challenge Authorities, who have been involved with the ASF for the longest period of time.

5.32 Table 5.14 below shows the proportion of 16-19 year olds participating in education, training or employment was 91.6% in 2019. This represents a decrease of 0.2 percentage points compared to the 2018 figure (91.8%). Despite the reduction the 2019 figure remains higher than in 2017 (91.1%) and 2016 (90.4%).

5.33 Looking specifically at the participation rate in the Challenge Authorities, six of the nine recorded a slight increase between Year 3 and Year 4 of the ASF. This reflects a similar trend to 2018 when seven out of the nine recorded an increase between Year 2 and Year 3 of the ASF.

Table 5.14: Challenge Authorities Percentage of 16-19 year olds participating, by local authority, 2017 - 2019
Participation rate Percentage point change between 2017 and 2019
2017 2018 2019
Clackmannanshire 89.7 89.3 90.1 0.4
Dundee 87.6 88.7 88.2 0.6
East Ayrshire 88.1 89.3 88.7 0.6
Glasgow 88.2 88.8 89.2 1
Inverclyde 91.9 91.6 91.8 -0.1
North Ayrshire 90.3 91.1 90.5 0.2
North Lanarkshire 90.2 90.5 90.1 -0.1
Renfrewshire 91.4 91.6 91.7 0.3
West Dunbartonshire 88.3 90.1 90.3 2
Challenge Authorities 89.3 89.9 89.9 0.6
Non-Challenge Authorities 91.9 92.8 92.4 0.5
Scotland 91.1 91.8 91.6 0.5

Source: Annual Participation Measure, Skills Development Scotland

5.34 At Scotland level as shown in Table 5.15 between Year 3 and 4 of the ASF, there was an overall reduction in the participation gap between those living in the most deprived areas compared to those living in the least deprived areas (10.5 percentage points in 2019, 10.8 percentage points in 2018, 11.6 percentage points in 2017). This was due to a slight increase in the rate of participation amongst those within the most deprived areas and a slight decrease amongst those in the least deprived areas. With regards Challenge Authorities Table 5.15 shows the following:

  • In Year 4 of the ASF, three Challenge Authorities had a smaller participation gap compared to Scotland
  • Between Year 3 and 4 of the ASF, the participation gap narrowed in six Challenge Authorities
  • In Year 4 of the ASF, the participation rate for those living in the 20% most deprived areas was higher or similar in four Challenge Authorities, compared to Scotland
  • Between Year 3 and 4 of the ASF, the participation rate for those living in the 20% most deprived areas increased or was maintained in seven Challenge Authorities
Table 5.15: Challenge Authorities percentage of 16-19 year olds participating, by local authority and deprivation, 2017, 2018, 2019
Most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) Least deprived (top 20% SIMD) Gap Percentage points
2017 2018 2019 2017 2018 2019 2017 2018 2019
Clackmannanshire 82.0 81.6 84.5 95.6 93.9 96.6 13.6 12.3 12.1
Dundee 82.4 82.9 83.4 96.2 95.6 96 13.8 12.7 12.6
East Ayrshire 82.7 83 83.1 94.2 97.2 96.2 11.5 14.1 13.1
Glasgow 85.5 86.1 86.3 96.3 96.1 95.5 10.9 10.0 9.2
Inverclyde 88.2 87.4 88.3 96.4 96.3 96.3 8.2 8.9 8.1*
North Ayrshire 85.9 87.6 87.8 97.5 96.4 94.7 11.6 8.8 6.9
North Lanarkshire 85.0 85.6 84.3 96.2 95.8 96.7 11.2 10.2 12.4
Renfrewshire 85.5 86.6 85.1 96.5 96.9 97.3 11.0 10.3 12.1*
West Dunbartonshire 84.8 85.7 85.7 95.5 96.9 98.9 10.7 11.2 13.2
Scotland 84.8 85.7 85.8 96.3 96.5 96.3 11.6 10.8 10.5

Source: Annual Participation Measure, Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

*SDS published figures used which are calculated with absolute percentages.

Health and wellbeing: attendances and exclusions

5.35 This section reports on two health and wellbeing related measures: attendance and exclusions rates. The ASF interim report for Years 1 and 2 also reported on the total difficulties score in the Scottish Health Survey and Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS), as well as the Mental Wellbeing Score from SALSUS. SALSUS is conducted on a biennial basis with the fieldwork for the 2018 survey having taken place between November 2018 and January 2019. Data from additional waves is not yet available and will be reported on in the Year 5 evaluation report.

5.36 Information on attendance and exclusion from schools is collected on a biennial basis. In the first interim report, data was analysed for 2014/15 – the year prior to the ASF. In this section, consideration is given to how these figures changed between Years 1- 4 of the ASF. It is important to note that policy around exclusions changed in 2017 following Scottish Government guidance and this has resulted in a reduction in exclusions. As a result of this some local authority figures have been suppressed in the official statistics, so as not to be disclosive. It is therefore difficult to draw conclusions from the exclusions data.

Attendance rates

5.37 The figure below shows the attendance levels for primary and secondary schools, by deprivation and by year.

5.38 As the attendance data shows, pupils from the most deprived areas had lower attendance rates. The effect was greater in secondary schools.

5.39 The gap in attendance rates increased over time for primary school children and, whilst the effect is greater in secondary schools, the gap has remained the same in years 2016/17 – 2018/19. Whilst the attendance of pupils from the least deprived areas remained fairly stable over time, the attendance rate of the most deprived pupils decreased.

Figure 5.1: Total Attendance Rates, by deprivation, 2014/15 & 2016/17 and 2018/19
Figure showing primary attendance rates and secondary attendance rates for most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) and least deprived (top 20% SIMD) and percentage point difference between most and least deprived across 2014/15 – 2018/19.

Source: Summary Statistics for Schools, Scottish Government

5.40 Table 5.16 below shows attendance rates for primary pupils, disaggregated by deprivation and Challenge Authority.

Table 5.16: Primary Attendance Rates – By local authority and deprivation, 2014/15 – 2018/19
Primary attendance rates Most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) % Least deprived (top 20% SIMD) % Gap Percentage points
2014/15 2016/17 2018/19 2014/15 2016/17 2018/19 2014/15 2016/17 2018/19
Clackmannanshire 93.4 93.7 93.1 96.1 96.2 95.8 2.7 2.5 2.7
Dundee City 93.3 92.9 92.6 96.5 96.6 96.2 3.2 3.7 3.6
East Ayrshire 93.8 93.6 92.4 96.5 96.6 96.0 2.7 3.0 3.6
Glasgow City 93.1 92.8 92.3 96.8 96.5 96.4 3.7 3.7 4.0
Inverclyde 93.3 93.2 93.1 96.9 96.3 96.0 3.6 3.1 2.9
North Ayrshire 94.2 93.5 93.0 96.3 96.7 96.5 2.1 3.2 3.5
North Lanarkshire 92.8 92.3 91.9 96.7 96.5 96.4 3.9 4.2 4.5
Renfrewshire 94.2 94.0 93.3 97.1 96.8 96.7 2.9 2.8 3.4
West Dunbartonshire 94.0 93.3 93.2 97.1 96.5 96.5 3.1 3.2 3.3
Scotland 93.3 92.9 92.4 96.7 96.7 96.4 3.4 3.8 4

Source: Summary Statistics for Schools, Scottish Government

5.41 In relation to the gap in attendance rates for primary pupils:

  • In Year 4 of the ASF, seven Challenge Authorities had a smaller gap compared to Scotland;
  • Between 2014/15 (pre-ASF) and Year 4, the gap narrowed in one Challenge Authorities.

5.42 The attendance rate for primary pupils from the least deprived areas was fairly consistent across Challenge Authorities (~96%).

5.43 Attendance rates for primary pupils in the most deprived areas was somewhat more varied. In Year 4, the attendance rate of pupils from the most deprived areas was higher or similar in eight Challenge Authorities compared to Scotland overall (up from 6 in Year 3).

5.44 Table 5.17 below shows the attendance rates for secondary pupils, disaggregated by deprivation and Challenge Authority.

Table 5.17: Secondary Attendance Rates – By local authority and deprivation, 2014/15, 2016/17, 2018/19
Secondary attendance rates Most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) % Least deprived (top 20% SIMD) % Gap Percentage points
2014/15 2016/17 2018/19 2014/15 2016/17 2018/19 2014/15 2016/17 2018/19
Clackmannanshire 88.2 86.8 88.9 94.0 94.4 94.0 5.8 7.6 5.1
Dundee City 87.3 87.1 86.4 93.7 93.9 93.5 6.4 6.8 7.1
East Ayrshire 87.7 87.0 86.0 94.5 93.9 93.3 6.8 6.9 7.3
Glasgow City 90.1 89.6 89.4 95.1 95.0 94.9 5.0 5.4 5.5
Inverclyde 88.7 87.7 87.7 94.5 94.3 92.8 5.8 6.6 5.1
North Ayrshire 89.1 87.5 87.6 93.9 93.0 92.6 4.8 5.5 5
North Lanarkshire 87.8 85.3 84.2 94.5 92.7 92.2 6.7 7.4 8
Renfrewshire 87.5 87.1 86.8 93.7 93.4 93.3 6.2 6.3 6.5
West Dunbartonshire 87.3 86.1 86.2 93.4 92.6 92.7 5.3 6.5 6.5
Scotland 88.7 87.7 87.3 94.5 94.3 93.9 5.8 6.6 6.6

Source: Summary Statistics for Schools, Scottish Government

5.45 In relation to the gap in attendance rates for secondary pupils:

  • In Year 4 of the ASF, six Challenge Authorities had a smaller gap compared to Scotland
  • From the year prior to ASF (2014/15) to Year 4 of the ASF, the gap between attendance rates in the most deprived and the least deprived areas narrowed in two Challenge Authorities

Exclusion rates

5.46 Full details on exclusion rates disaggregated by local authority and SIMD are available on the National Improvement Framework Interactive Evidence Report.

5.47 Overall, exclusion rates were higher for pupils from the most deprived areas compared to those from the least deprived. Secondary schools had a higher exclusion rate than primary schools and the gap in exclusion rates was also higher in secondary schools. Due to suppression of figures it is difficult to draw conclusions from the exclusion rate figures.

5.48 In terms of the primary exclusion rates for Challenge Authorities, by deprivation and year, it is not possible to offer a full analysis of the gap in relation to exclusion rates due to disclosure control.

5.49 From the year prior to ASF (2014/15) to Year 2 of the ASF (2016/17), the primary exclusion rate for pupils from the most deprived areas decreased for 4 Challenge Authorities.

Table 5.18: Primary Exclusion Rates per 1,000 pupils - By local authority and deprivation, 2014/15, 2016/17, 2018/19
Primary exclusion rates per 1000 pupils Most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) % Least deprived (top 20% SIMD) % Gap Percentage points
2014/15 2016/17 2018/19 2014/15 2016/17 2018/19 2014/15 2016/17 2018/19
Clackmannanshire 68.0 48.5 * 5.7 * 0.0 62.3 - -
Dundee City 29.9 20.4 9.0 2.1 * 7.7 27.8 - 1.3
East Ayrshire 54.2 52 37.2 3.8 * 0.0 50.4 - 37.2
Glasgow City 12.8 18.3 6.3 3.5 4 * 9.3 14.3 -
Inverclyde 3.9 3.1 * 0.0 * * 3.9 - -
North Ayrshire 8.8 9.1 10.8 0.0 * * 8.8 9.1 10.8
North Lanarkshire 17.7 19.8 18.8 1.9 3 * 15.8 16.8 -
Renfrewshire 5.3 16.9 11.8 0.4 0 * 4.9 16.9 11.8
West Dunbartonshire 13.8 22.7 16.5 0 0 0.0 13.8 22.7 16.5
Scotland 19.0 22 14.4 2.1 3 2.36 16.9 19 12.04

Source: Summary Statistics for Schools, Scottish Government

* = suppression due to small numbers
- = unable to calculate figure due to suppression

5.50 Table 5.13 shows the secondary exclusion rates for Challenge Authorities, by deprivation and year. The gap in secondary exclusion rates narrowed in 5 of the 8 Challenge Authorities between 2014/15 and 2016/17. Due to suppression of the figures we cannot fully analyse the gap for year 4.

Table 5.19: Secondary Exclusion Rates per 1,000 pupils - By local authority and deprivation, 2014/15, 2016/17, 2018/19
Secondary exclusion rates per 1000 pupils Most deprived (bottom 20% SIMD) % Least deprived (top 20% SIMD) % Gap Percentage points
2014/15 2016/17 2018/19 2014/15 2016/17 2018/19 2014/15 2016/17 2018/19
Clackmannanshire 110.3 42 * 36.7 24.1 0.0 73.6 17.9 -
Dundee City 228.1 123.5 70.2 22.8 32.1 24.0 205.3 91.4 46.2
East Ayrshire 131.8 147.1 21.7 26.7 15.5 * 105.1 131.6 21.7
Glasgow City 78.3 60.1 32.0 7.6 18.9 6.0 70.7 41.2 26
Inverclyde 61.2 54.7 51.7 9.6 20.9 13.1 51.6 33.8 38.6
North Ayrshire 66.4 57.4 27.9 19.9 * * 46.5 - -
North Lanarkshire 95.9 85.6 98.6 18.0 19.5 17.8 77.9 66.1 80.8
Renfrewshire 56.0 79.3 107.7 9.6 19.1 20.2 46.4 60.2 87.5
West Dunbartonshire 81.0 132.9 78.3 23.3 29.6 * 57.7 103 -
Scotland 95.2 85 64.69 15.1 18 15.93 80.1 67 48.76

Source: Summary Statistics for Schools, Scottish Government

* = suppression due to small numbers
- = unable to calculate figure due to suppression

Evidence of impact: reported evidence of impact

5.51 Throughout the Challenge Authority and Schools Programme progress reports there was considerable variance in terms of the level and nature of data reported to provide evidence of impact. In general, there were broad statements and affirmations regarding the extent to which implemented approaches and interventions were positively impacting on raising attainment and closing the opportunity gap within their school.

5.52 With regards to perceived success in meeting outcomes, the Headteacher Survey 2019 showed that 91% of headteachers reported to have seen an improvement in closing the poverty-related attainment gap as a result of ASF supported approaches, which is a 13 point increase since 2017.

Figure 5.2: Improvement in Closing the Poverty Related Attainment Gap
Bar chart showing time-series data regarding whether headteachers had seen an improvement in closing the poverty-related attainment gap, extract of results from Headteacher Surveys 2016 – 2019

5.53 Nearly all schools (98%) expected to see improvement in closing the gap over the next five years. The survey found that the headteachers that were most likely to report improvement in closing the poverty-related attainment gap were:

  • those who had seen a change in culture or ethos which would for example include embedding the approach to equity within the school itself and broader strategies and/or more collaborative working
  • those who have improved their understanding of barriers faced by pupils and families

In addition, the following subgroups were significantly more likely to have seen improvement as a result of ASF supported approaches.

Respondents most likely to have seen progress in closing the gap:

  • Feel confident using evidence to inform the development of their approach
  • Feel they have sufficient support to develop their school plan for PEF
  • Always use available evidence to measure the impact of approaches

5.54 The survey showed some variation across the three funding streams in respect of progress in closing the poverty-related attainment gap. Schools Programme respondents were most likely to report an improvement, whereas PEF-only schools and particularly those with a lower PEF allocation were least likely to report an improvement.

Influencing Factors

5.55 Evidence on the factors that local authorities and schools thought helped interventions to be successful or not in closing the poverty-related attainment gap were gathered from the Headteacher Survey, the Local Authority Survey and Challenge Authority and Schools Programme progress reports.

5.56 The Headteacher Survey 2019 asked respondents their views on factors that contribute to or hinder the success of their ASF approaches. The three main supporting factors identified were:

  • the ability to implement approaches relevant to school (58%)
  • teaching and staffing resources (52%)
  • higher quality learning and teaching (45%)

More than half the respondents felt that the ability to implement approaches relevant to the school context and availability of staffing resources contributed most to their progress (58% and 52% respectively).

5.57 In respect of hindering factors, staff time and workload, and reduction in other services or resources, were seen as the main factors limiting progress in closing the poverty related attainment gap. Both of these factors were mentioned by 44% of respondents. Other factors that were mentioned commonly by respondents included staffing resources and recruitment, level of PEF received and staff absences.

5.58 There were similar findings from the Local Authority Survey 2019 where in terms of factors supporting progress the benefits of new posts and new central structures, greater use of data and increased data literacy, increased collaboration and leadership were all highlighted. The benefits of a greater emphasis on strategic links, such as to child poverty strategies and increased focus and understanding of the impact of poverty were cited as key factors supporting progress. Mention was also made of the introduction of specific models and approaches – for example the creation of specific new procurement frameworks and increased focus on working with families and communities.

5.59 The factor hindering success mentioned in the Local Authority Survey 2019 were largely similar to previous years and comparable with the Headteacher Survey findings. For example, recruitment difficulties, staff turnover and funding uncertainty in the longer term along with appropriate levels of data literacy were cited.

5.60 Broader considerations raised referred to the scale of the challenge in terms of poverty and need for wider community and societal interventions (recognition of the length of duration required and continuation of support needed to address the scale of the challenge), and factors related to rurality and poverty (concerns regarding the measurement of poverty in rural areas using existing SIMD measure).

Additionality

5.61 In terms of the extent to which ASF was seen as additional, there was limited direct evidence gathered regarding perceptions of additionality. However, the Headteacher Survey 2019 included a question to determine headteachers' views on whether PEF had provided additional resource needed to address the poverty-related attainment gap, with 86% of respondents indicating they felt this was the case. There was some variation across key respondent groups, with headteachers of PEF only schools less likely to feel that PEF has provided an additional resource. This issue would warrant further exploration through future evaluation activity.

Sustainability

5.62 Sustained and embedded practices related to addressing the impact of the poverty-related attainment gap is one of the high level long-term outcomes of SAC.

5.63 This section explores sustainability in the context of the ASF from a number of aspects. Firstly, the extent to which sustainability has featured in planning and developing approaches to the ASF is considered. Following this, the related aspect of sustainability of focus on addressing the poverty-related attainment gap beyond the years of the Fund is explored. Sustainability is then considered in terms of impact i.e. the sustainability of any improvements beyond the years of the Fund. Finally, factors which may impact on sustainability are explored.

5.64 Evidence on sustainability is drawn primarily from the Local Authority Survey 2019 and Headteacher Survey 2019. Challenge Authority and Schools Programme progress reports have also been considered.

To what extent has sustainability featured in planning and developing approaches to addressing the poverty-related attainment gap?

5.65 Actions to support, encourage and/or plan for sustainability were explored in Local Authority Survey 2019 responses. As well as affirmations of a commitment to sustainability, there were also statements of specific actions both at local authority and at school level.

5.66 There was evidence of both strategic approaches and actions towards sustainability, and actions at a more local level and within specific initiatives. Sustainability was being considered at many levels, including:

  • mainstreaming plans both at local authority and school level
  • schools considering the sustainability of interventions when planning and implementing PEF
  • support to schools from Attainment Advisors to consider sustainability of PEF
  • sustainability as a key feature of discussions within schools

5.67 Sustainability was linked with the prioritisation of interventions with the greatest impact by local authorities.

5.68 Within Challenge Authority progress reports, several made explicit mention of the extent to which authorities were considering and/or addressing sustainability in their local authority. This included, for example, specific actions such as taking steps to rationalise interventions, or develop an exit strategy, as well as broader aspects around focus on culture change and ethos, partnership working, capacity building such as provision of CLPL to staff groups, and focus on leadership.

5.69 Local authorities had also in a number of instances given consideration to an exit strategy.

5.70 Schools Programme progress reports varied in the extent to which they explicitly mentioned sustainability. Several explicitly described their school's approach to considering sustainability at the level of specific interventions. There were instances where sustainability was linked to building capacity within wider staffing groups through the provision of CLPL.

5.71 The emerging shift of focus from the level of intervention to broader approaches which is clear across evidence sources may also be consistent with a greater emphasis on sustainability, such as the development and embedding of whole school nurture approaches.

Sustainability of focus

5.72 At the local authority level, evidence from the Local Authority Survey 2019 indicated that local authorities were broadly positive regarding the extent to which the focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap would be sustainable beyond the years of the fund. All 24 local authorities who responded to this survey question were of the view that the focus would be sustainable (eight to a great extent, 11 to some extent and five to a limited extent). Of the seven Challenge Authorities who responded to this question on sustainability of focus, three viewed the focus would be sustainable to a great extent, and four to some extent.

5.73 Factors which might impact on the sustainability of focus were also explored in the Local Authority Survey. Staffing and budget were key concerns related to sustainability following withdrawal of funding. However, local authority respondents also indicated that collaboration, 'pooling' of resources, good practice sharing, building capacity and focusing on staff professional development would be sustainable to some extent.

5.74 At the school level, a great majority of headteachers responding to the Headteacher Survey 2019 expected the focus to be sustainable to some degree. 41% expected the focus to be sustainable to a great or moderate extent, and a further 43% felt that the focus would be sustainable to some extent beyond the funding period. The remaining 15% did not feel that the focus would be sustainable (12% not very well/3% not at all). There was some variation by funding stream in terms of perceptions of sustainability, with headteacher respondents from Schools Programme schools more positive than those from either Challenge Authority or PEF-only schools in terms of sustainability of focus.

Sustainability of improvements

5.75 Headteacher perspectives on the sustainability of improvements associated with their school's approach beyond the years of the fund were gathered in the Headteacher Survey 2019. This question around sustainability of improvements has been included in the Headteacher Survey since its introduction resulting in time series data availability from 2016 to 2019. This shows that headteacher perspectives of sustainability of improvements rose from 2016 to a high of 58% in 2017 but then fell to 42% in 2018 and remained at a similar level (41%) in 2019. The data suggests a correlation between views on sustainability and perceived improvement to date, with those who had seen improvement to date in the poverty-related attainment gap being significantly more likely to expect improvements to be sustainable beyond the funding period.

5.76 As with the sustainability of focus question, there was some variation by funding stream in terms of perceptions of sustainability. Headteacher respondents from Schools Programme schools were more positive than Challenge Authority or PEF-only schools about sustainability of improvement on closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

Factors associated with sustainability

5.77 Headteacher perceptions of factors associated with sustainable improvements and/or focus beyond the funding period included staff training, development and capacity-building. Over half of headteacher respondents to the Headteacher Survey who expected their approach to be sustainable made reference to staff training/development and capacity-building. References were made to schools having specific focus on developing existing staff, including embedding practice, to ensure sustainability of focus, and to developing capacity for provision of training and development to ensure new staff can support and contribute to the approach.

5.78 Perceptions of sustainability beyond the period of funding was also associated with awareness raising and change of culture/ethos. Across evidence sources, there were indications of broader culture change and ethos which may lead to an ongoing focus on addressing poverty-related attainment gap.

5.79 Follow on qualitative feedback gathered for the Headteacher Survey highlighted the importance of the focus on equity, and a shared understanding of equity, as key to sustainability of approach. The development of a strong overall vision and plan, which would remain in place post-funding, was viewed as particularly important in ensuring sustainability. Conversely, loss of staffing and skills was the primary factor associated with perceptions of limited sustainability beyond the period of funding.

Unintended Consequences

5.80 This section explores the unintended consequences of the Fund, both positive and negative. It also considers the impact of these unintended consequences on the outcomes and implementation of the Fund and focuses on whether the negative unintended consequences could have been mitigated (and if they were).

5.81 Reporting of unintended consequences shows a consistent pattern across Year 1 to 4 of the ASF. Evidence for this section has been drawn from the Local Authority Survey and the Headteacher Survey. It is important to note that the responses should be considered in the context of respondents being asked to highlight consequences which were not intended or anticipated in their own planning, rather than commenting on the wider policy intentions of the ASF. It is also important to note that a number of the consequences such as improved collaboration and partnership working are key policy intentions for the Fund.

5.82 The Local Authority Survey highlighted the following as positive unintended consequences:

  • Partnership working and collaboration
  • Culture change
  • Improved data use
  • Increasingly skilled classroom practitioners
  • Increased understanding of poverty and its impact

5.83 Similar positive unintended consequences were reported in the Headteacher Survey, which showed that around one in three (33%) of respondents had seen unintended positive consequences as a result of ASF funding and around one in eight (13%) had seen unintended negative consequences. The most common responses were consistent with previous reporting and included better collaboration and partnership working (25%), training and skills development for staff (15%) and improved engagement with parents and families (13%) being most commonly mentioned. Additionally, more leadership opportunities for staff (13%) and improved pupil engagement and attendance were often cited (12%).

5.84 Unintended negative consequences were reported in a similar way to previous years with concerns around workload, staffing concerns and wider resources being reported. The Local Authority Survey reported the following unintended negative consequences;

  • Workload
  • Reporting demand/bureaucracy
  • Staffing concerns
  • Level of funding in more affluent areas where there is still need/hidden poverty
  • Concerns about future sustainability

5.85 The headteacher responses were also broadly consistent, with negative unintended consequences reported in previous surveys with additional workload (26%) and reporting requirements (5%) remaining unchanged from previous years. Other responses frequently referred to were the reduction in wider school budgets and external supports (15%) and difficulties in staff retention and recruitment (11%).

Contact

Email: joanna.shedden@gov.scot

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