Introduction & Background
The 2022/23 academic year is the first year of the Scottish Attainment Challenge under its refreshed model.
The Scottish Attainment Challenge programme was refreshed with a view to supporting education recovery and accelerating progress in closing the poverty-related attainment gap, building on the progress made over the course of the previous parliamentary term and the 2021/22 academic year. A key element of that progress, set out in Closing the poverty-related attainment gap: progress report 2016 to 2021, was the progress in raising the profile of and embedding an ethos of equity in education:
"Important strengths of the Scottish approach include: a systemic change in terms of culture, ethos and leadership; a strengthened awareness of the barriers facing children and young people adversely affected by socio-economic disadvantage; the significant role of local authorities in driving forward a strategic vision for equity at local level"(Closing the poverty-related attainment gap: progress report 2016 to 2021, page 6).
Having made that progress and recognised the key role of local authorities in driving a focus on equity in local systems, the Scottish Attainment Challenge was refreshed to do the following:
- Introduce a new, broader mission: to use education to improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. This recognises the range of learning opportunities, experiences and support that help young people achieve to the best of their ability, regardless of their backgrounds.
- Change the approach to distributing to local authorities and schools funding from the Scottish Government's £1 billion commitment to support education recovery and accelerate progress in closing the poverty-related attainment gap. This included:
- continuing and increasing the distribution of Pupil Equity Funding, with £1225 per pupil registered for free school meals going to 97% of Scotland's schools and allocations set for 4 years to enable headteachers to make long term plans – reaffirming the Scottish Government's commitment to empowered, professional leadership in schools;
- continuing and increasing the distribution of Care Experienced Children and Young People funding, with £1225 per looked after child issued to local authorities; and
- recognising that poverty impacts children and young people across all of Scotland, introducing Strategic Equity Funding, issued to all local authorities to further support the development and implementation of strategic approaches to tackling the poverty-related attainment gap at local authority level.
- Provide enhanced support to the system through Education Scotland, including:
- continued support to all local authorities through attainment advisors and regional teams to help develop and implement effective approaches to tackling the poverty-related attainment gap;
- triannual AA reports which identify effective practice and clarify next steps;
- the introduction of universal, targeted and intensive support;
- the collaborative improvement programme delivered jointly with ADES;
- a suite of professional learning sessions videos and activities;
- practice sharing events and case studies;
- a range of bespoke Scottish Attainment Challenge related publications, including Pupil Equity Funding: Looking inwards, outwards, forwards – sharing effective practice to maximise support for learners and practitioners;and
- the publication of Scotland's Equity Toolkit.
- Publish a Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress to:
- reinforce the system-wide commitment to equity in education;
- clarify roles and responsibilities for closing the poverty-related attainment gap and encourage both continued empowered local decision making and strengthened collaboration at local levels– including between schools and local authorities, and between education services and related services to support children, young people and their families – to maximise the impact of Scottish Attainment Challenge funding and local plans; and
- set high expectations and drive a greater focus on outcomes, through the introduction of local stretch aims as part of local authority education service planning.
Additionally, a clear theory of change in the form of a new, nested Scottish Attainment Challenge Logic Model has been published. This will help shape local plans. Furthermore, a refreshed, multi-year innovative and flexible Attainment Scotland Fund - 2022 to 2026: Evaluation Strategy has been published to build an evidence base over time and pursue key themes as they arise to study the impact of the Scottish Attainment Challenge programme.
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