Scottish Attainment Challenge - Local stretch Aims: 2023/24 to 2025/26

A summary of local authority stretch aims for raising attainment and closing the poverty related attainment gap 2023/24 - 2025/26.

Progress towards 2022/23 stretch aims

For primary school attainment, ACEL data showed strong improvement between 2020/21 and 2021/22 and the poverty-related attainment gap returned towards pre-pandemic levels. In 2022/23 this improvement has continued. The 2022/23 ACEL data for primary school literacy and numeracy shows that collectively local authorities have made progress towards the ambitious stretch aims set for 2022/23. This is summarised below:

Overall attainment:

  • For P1, P4 and P7 combined, the proportions of pupils achieving the expected Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) levels are at record highs for both literacy and numeracy.
  • For literacy the 2022/23 figure of 72.7% is 0.4 percentage points above the previous high (72.3% in 2018/19).
  • For numeracy the 2022/23 figure of 79.6% is 0.5 percentage points above the previous high (79.1% in 2018/19).

The poverty-related attainment gap:

  • The gap between the proportion of primary pupils (P1, P4 and P7 combined) from the most and least deprived areas who achieved their expected level in literacy decreased in 2022/23 compared to 2021/22. It is also slightly narrower than in 2018/19 making it the narrowest gap on record.
  • The gap between the proportion of primary pupils (P1, P4 and P7 combined) from the most and least deprived areas who achieved their expected level in numeracy decreased in 2022/23 compared to 2021/22. However, it remains slightly wider than in 2018/19.
  • For both literacy and numeracy the proportions of primary school children who achieved the expected CfE level are at record highs for children from both the most and least deprived areas of Scotland.

Overall, these data provide a positive platform for progress towards the 2025/26 stretch aims set out in this publication.

For school leavers with one or more National Qualification A-C awards at SCQF levels 5 or better, and 6 or better, national data will be available through the SSAILD publication in February 2024. However, there are indications of progress compared to pre-pandemic performance. At National 5 and Higher, the poverty-related attainment gaps remain narrower than in 2019.

For the Annual Participation Measure, data published in August 2023 showed that the aggregated stretch aims for overall participation were exceeded, whilst the aggregated aims for the poverty-related participation gap were not. However, that gap was at a record low.

It is clear that children and young people – and their families – are still feeling the effects of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. However, in terms of primary school attainment and the annual participation measure we are seeing good progress and recovery from the pandemic. We will see what progress has been made in the senior phase in February 2024, but can be encouraged by this year’s National 5 and Higher data. To accelerate this progress, the Scottish Government continues to invest in the £1 billion Scottish Attainment Challenge to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap, whilst also investing heavily to ensure children and young people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed – with the best pupil teacher ratios in the UK, the highest starting salaries in the UK for teachers, investment in digital devices, free school meals and the increased school clothing grant.

Despite the challenges presented by the current cost-of-living crisis and lasting impacts of the pandemic, as we look ahead there is clear ambition amongst local authorities to raise attainment and close the poverty-related attainment gap over the next three years.



Back to top