Strategic Equity Fund: national operational guidance 2022

Guidance to support local authorities plan how they will most effectively spend their Strategic Equity funding.

Considerations for using Strategic Equity Funding

When planning for the use of Strategic Equity Funding consideration should be given to the totality of Attainment Scotland Funding in local authorities and how the plans read across to wider local service plans to support children and young people impacted by poverty.

Local authorities should also consider how the plans for the use of Strategic Equity Funding will support the six priority family types identified by the Scottish Government as being at highest risk of experiencing child poverty:

  • Lone parent families
  • Minority ethnic families
  • Families with a disabled adult or child
  • Families with a young mother (under 25)
  • Families with a child under one
  • Larger families (3+ children)

Mitigate the Impact of Poverty

Mitigating the impact of poverty is an imperative in line with the refreshed mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge, and supports the Scottish Government's Tackling Child Poverty plans. At the planning stage, consideration should be given to the alignment of Strategic Equity Funding plans and local child poverty action plans, ensuring they complement each other and lead to improvement across shared aims.

Tackling the cost of the school day can help to remove financial barriers to learning and participation for children on low incomes. It can also reduce pressure on family budgets. Focusing on the cost of the school day improves equity through better understanding of barriers faced by pupils and families affected by poverty and the development of poverty aware policies and practices.

The Cost of the School Day project at Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland offers resources and support for schools and local authorities on developing cost of the school day approaches, involving school communities and good practice in reducing costs, maximising incomes and supporting children and families on low incomes.

All Cost of the School Day (CoSD) information and resources can be found:

National Parent Forum of Scotland also have a cost of the school day toolkit for parent councils – Cost of the School Day Parent Council Toolkit – National Parent Forum of Scotland (


Evidence shows that some children and young people from marginalised groups can be disproportionately affected by deprivation and can therefore face significant additional barriers to learning. Local authorities have responsibilities to actively address inequality and the promotion of equity is a shared responsibility held by all staff, partners and other relevant stakeholders. Local authorities should consider how the interests, knowledge, identities and resources of marginalised young people and communities (e.g. those from minority ethnic backgrounds or lone parent households) are being recognised and valued. The influence of unconscious bias should also be considered especially in relation to whose ideas are valued and how they influence SEF planning.

In this context, local authorities should consider additional steps that might be required to close the poverty-related attainment gap for pupils affected by poverty who may also experience disadvantage for other reasons. For example, disadvantage related to: a protected characteristic (disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex (gender) and sexual orientation); a need for which they require additional support; being looked after; or having caring responsibilities.

There is a need to consider equalities when identifying root causes of attainment gaps – data about poverty and the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation should be looked at in conjunction with other key characteristics including, but not limited to, gender, race, disability, care experience, gypsy roma/traveller. This will require disaggregating data educational settings will already be collecting by these characteristics.


Any staff recruited through Strategic Equity Funding should be additional to normal requirements. Where local authorities identify the need to recruit additional staff to support their strategic plans they should ensure that the job remits and specifications are clearly tied to the aims of the Scottish Attainment Challenge.


Purchase of resources, equipment or services must comply with existing local authority procurement procedures. This will be particularly important when buying Information and Communication Technology (ICT) resources (see below) or, for example, services from third sector partners. Local authorities should ensure compliance with local procurement policies and legislation.


Strategic Equity Funding can be used to procure digital technologies, including hardware and software, where its allocation and use is particularly focused on supporting children and young people affected by poverty to achieve their full potential.

The Scottish Government is currently in the planning stages of the commitment to provide a device for every school aged child and intend to provide a deeper investment in the technology in 2023/24 onwards. You may wish to consider whether SEF could be used towards digital devices in 2022/23 or other whether other funding avenues would be more suitable at this stage.

The Scottish Government provides access to a range of national procurement frameworks for the purchase of digital technology products and devices, including a range of desktops, laptops and tablets. The frameworks offer a direct route to market and significant savings against Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

We know that simply providing more technology does not result in improved outcomes for learners. Therefore, any deployment of technology in an educational setting should be undertaken in line with the objectives of the national Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy and any local digital planning where necessary with clear plans in place at the outset to evaluate the impact on closing the poverty-related attainment gap from the funding.



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