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.


The first five years of 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. The refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge programme, backed by a further commitment of £1 billion from 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 Framework for Recovery and Accelerating Progress (the Framework) has been developed to support the next phase of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. It aims to:

  • 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 annual, ambitious locally identified stretch aims, to help ensure significant progress is made in recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and in achieving the mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. By setting these annual aims we will know how much progress is expected and by when in each locality. Informed by this data, 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 and set aims for long-term progress in the mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. This will build on the sizable 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; this is accompanied by specific new guidance to ensure there is greater consistency on how processes are used across the country and enable a more accurate national picture;
  • through local stretch aims, drive improved outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty in the local authority. In the first instance a 'core plus' model is expected, with the "core" setting a minimum expectation for aims measurable by the National Improvement Framework key measures and local data for health and wellbeing; and the "plus" reflecting additional local priorities. Additional national measures reflecting wider poverty-related and health and wellbeing issues will need to be developed and agreed for future versions of the Framework from the start of the school year 2023-24; and
  • 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 ensure that the best possible outcomes for our children and young people are achieved.



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