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.

3. Reporting and monitoring

3.1 In-year monitoring of progress

It is important that in-year monitoring of progress occurs in local settings to ensure an ongoing understanding of progress. This enables early support and intervention where required. This already happens in most schools and authorities and should be a key part of local approaches.

Having clearly articulated outline trajectories for progress towards 2025/26 stretch aims is designed to support that ongoing monitoring of progress in local systems. Local authorities review and update their education service plans annually alongside their annual reporting on progress through SQRs/NIF reports (more on reporting below).

Monitoring of progress will be part of the on-going and regular dialogue between local authorities and Education Scotland, through the Senior Regional Advisors and Attainment Advisors in particular.

Through the Scottish Attainment Challenge joint programme, the Scottish Government and Education Scotland will discuss local progress in improving health and wellbeing and tackling the poverty-related attainment gap quarterly. This will be informed by national and local data, local reporting, evidence and intelligence, and the suite of Education Scotland tri-annual reports (which will include commentary on local progress towards stretch aims) to ensure appropriate levels of support are provided and that the best possible progress and outcomes are being achieved.

These quarterly progress discussions will be an opportunity to reflect on successes, wider barriers to progress and the types of support, collaboration and challenge required to help ensure future progress across all local authorities.

Education Scotland, in consultation with local authorities, continues to consider where further support is required both at school and local authority level based on levels of deprivation, performance data and contextual analysis, which will be informed by dialogue with ADES and individual local authorities. Cognisance will be taken of particular requirements in local authorities, including resources to support improvement and achievement of stretch aims, and self-evaluation processes. In partnership with ADES, Education Scotland has been undertaking a programme of Collaborative Improvement, which involves colleagues from ADES, Education Scotland and the host authority working together to tackle an area where performance can be improved. This methodology has been highly effective and plans are being developed to build on this approach in driving improvement.

In particular, Education Scotland resources will be prioritised and allocated where improvement can be accelerated.

Where additional resources are required to support agreed outcomes, Education Scotland determines how these priorities will be resourced. In doing this, Education Scotland will:

  • provide universal support, available to all local authorities and schools;
  • provide targeted support to local authorities and schools with particular requirements. This may be those with the highest levels of poverty or others depending on the data and contextual analysis; and
  • intensively use its resources in collaboration with a small number of local authorities and schools where progress can be accelerated. Resources will also be utilised in certain circumstances where no, or very limited, progress is being made to improving outcomes for children and young people affected by poverty.

As is set out in the 2018 Joint Agreement, in rare cases where evidence suggests there is cause for concern, the following approaches will be deployed as appropriate:

  • professional dialogue between LA and ES will have explored concerns about limited progress and a variety of supports provided
  • continued concerns will be shared with all partners
  • the SNCT will collectively address concerns if there is evidence of non-compliance by local authorities with the Code of Practice on staff selection
  • COSLA will facilitate challenge and support drawing in expertise from ADES/ES and others. This will include evidence review and challenge sessions leading to a clear action plan, offer of peer support and follow-up activity to monitor impact and improvement
  • evaluation of progress
  • clear line of escalation to audit and scrutiny inspection bodies if insufficient progress.

3.2 Reporting

Reporting on the impact of plans to use education to improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty, with a focus on reducing the poverty-related attainment gap will be through existing mechanisms within the education system.


In line with arrangements for Pupil Equity Funding since its roll-out in 2017/18, schools are expected to incorporate details of their Pupil Equity Funding plans and explicitly report on the impact on outcomes for learners impacted by poverty within existing reporting processes to their Parent Council and Forum, including in their annual Standards and Quality Reports. There will be some children and young people impacted by poverty where individual milestones will be most relevant to understanding the impact of supports funded through PEF. Schools should contact their local authority for further advice in the first instance if needed; and can draw on the support of their Attainment Advisor.

These reports should be made publicly available so that parents and carers can understand what is happening in schools.

Scottish Government and Education Scotland will sample these reports annually to continue to inform our understanding of the approaches to tackling the poverty-related attainment gap.

Key findings from this sampling will be made available to local authorities and schools.

Local authorities

Reporting should be done through the existing requirement for local authority Education Standards and Quality Reports (or local equivalent reports). These reports, whilst covering the overall progress and impact of local authority service improvement plans and school improvement plans, should for the Scottish Attainment Challenge (considering the impact across all funding streams) have specific details on the below:

  • The stretch aims set out in the local authority education service improvement plan and the extent to which progress towards them is being made.
  • The measures described in the local authority education service improvement plan and any additional data to report on the impact on children and young people affected by poverty. Both qualitative and quantitative data should be used to detail whether the expected impact was achieved – and based on that data, include commentary on confidence of progress towards specific stretch aims.
  • Examples of supports and interventions which have been effective.

There should be clear narrative on how Attainment Scotland Funding (PEF, SEF and CECYP funding) has contributed to local approaches to meeting locally identified stretch aims and the mission of the SAC. There should be evidence of strategic coherence and alignment to the use of these funding streams.

Local authorities are required to share reporting that covers the above with Scottish Government by the end of September annually – alongside the submission of their stretch aims for the 2025/26. This reporting can be provided via their annual NIF reports or Standards and Quality Reports (for which education authorities have an existing duty to provide Scottish Ministers a copy once published), or extracts of those reports if they are not otherwise complete by the end of September.

For CECYP funding, arrangements will continue as they have done since its roll-out in 2018/19 as part of existing relevant authority reporting requirements, with reports shared with the Scottish Government and Education Scotland at the end of the academic year, highlighting evidence of impact through both qualitative and quantitative information. Separate CECYP guidance sets this out in full.

Fig. 1. Scottish Attainment Challenge – planning and reporting cycle for 2023/24
Displays the planning and reporting cycle for the Scottish Attainment Challenge for 2023/24



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