Scottish Attainment Challenge: framework for recovery and accelerating progress

A Framework to support schools, local authorities and others across the education system to support educational recovery and increase progress in improving outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty.


Over the course of 2015 – 2021, the Scottish Attainment Challenge saw much progress in closing the poverty-related attainment gap but at a limited pace. The pandemic disrupted the learning of our children and young people and had a disproportionate impact on children affected by poverty. Over the course of 2021/22 – 2025/26, the Scottish Attainment Challenge programme, backed by a commitment of £1 billion from the Scottish Government through the Attainment Scotland Fund (ASF), aims to address these challenges and ensure that equity lies at the heart of the education experience for all. This investment builds upon the £750 million invested in tackling the poverty- related attainment gap from the programme's launch to 2021.

This Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress (the Framework) has been developed to support the Scottish Attainment Challenge. It aims to do the following:

  • Reinforce our collective commitment to equity in education, to mitigate the impact of poverty on children's outcomes and tackle the poverty-related attainment gap.
  • Set high expectations, including ambitious locally identified stretch aims for achieving the mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. By setting these stretch aims for 2025/26, we will see clear, ambitious trajectories for progress in each locality by the end of that three-year period (see template in Annex A). Supported by this information, nationally we can tailor further support for improvement, and focus on the immediate impact it can have on improving leadership, learning and teaching, and our work with families and communities, for the benefit of children and young people now.
  • Take advantage of multi-year funding allocations for schools and local authorities to plan, supported by the SAC logic model, and set aims for long-term progress in the mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. This will build on the sizeable investment in the Scottish Attainment Challenge to date, to make a greater difference, more quickly, for children and young people.
  • Use existing improvement processes, as far as possible, in order to minimise additional bureaucracy. Specific requirements within this Framework ensure there are clear local ambitions for progress that inform the national picture of those ambitions.
  • Through local plans and their accompanying stretch aims, drive improved outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty in the local authority.
  • In setting these stretch aims, a "core plus" model is expected:
    • The "core" sets a minimum requirement for aims measurable by a sub-set of the National Improvement Framework key measures based on national data and Insight data, and local data for health and wellbeing.
    • The "plus" should reflect additional local priorities, such as attendance, initial leaver destinations, literacy and numeracy in the senior phase, aims for Gaelic Medium Education, and aims for improved outcomes for children and young people who have experienced care and / or identified with additional support needs who experience poverty related barriers to learning.
  • Build on the continued commitment to empowerment for local planning and decision making, while ensuring strategic direction, support and challenge is provided by local authorities and national agencies. This will help achieve the best possible outcomes for our children and young people.

Having first published this Framework in April 2022, we now have a first suite of ambitious local stretch aims for progress in 2022/23 which are available on



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