Strategic Equity Fund: national operational guidance 2022

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


In the context of the Scottish Attainment Challenge, local authorities are responsible for:

  • Preparing Strategic Equity Fund plans, including stretch aims, to contribute to the mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge.
  • Supporting school improvement through providing assistance to schools and partners by:
    • supporting schools to identify poverty-related gaps through coaching, professional learning and supporting access to tracking and monitoring and data analysis tools;
    • providing professional learning around planning (data, outcomes & measures), interventions & approaches;
    • offering practical support to schools, where required, in terms of financial management and HR; and
    • supporting and challenging schools in their use of PEF to make progress in improving the health and wellbeing and educational outcomes of children and young people impacted by poverty.
  • Ongoing, active monitoring of plans for recovery and to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap and improve health and wellbeing, supporting and challenging key stakeholders and/or partners; and adjusting plans where necessary to ensure progress.
  • Reporting on progress towards their locally identified stretch aims.
  • Reporting on the effective investment of Attainment Scotland Funding.
  • Collaborating with a range of services across the local authority and in local communities to secure additional contributions to the mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge.


Parents and local communities are a valuable source of support, expertise and experience in working with young people experiencing poverty-related barriers to learning. In many contexts local authorities may be able to achieve the best possible outcomes for children and young people by working with a range of bodies – as well as schools – such as:

  • parent groups;
  • parent councils; and,
  • other local authority and public sector services such as:
    • community learning and development;
    • third sector organisations (including youth work, family learning organisations);
    • other educational sectors; and/or
    • centres of expertise such as universities.

Engaging Children and Young People and their Families

Children and young people should be involved at the planning and evaluation of the effectiveness of interventions stages of local approaches and have the opportunity to have their views heard and influence local decision making.

Support can be accessed via this resource on how to enable children and young people to have that input to planning and evaluation of approaches.

One particular approach that local authorities can consider is participatory budgeting.

Participatory budgeting (PB) is an innovative and effective mechanism to engage with parents, carers, children and young people, in particular those who face barriers to participation within their learning community. PB directly involves people in budgeting decisions that has a direct impact on improving their lives. It can strengthen pupil voice and provide real experience of democracy in action, resulting in more confident and active young people as citizens. PB offers positive engagement experiences, strengthening the school culture (or beyond) by building positive relationships. PB is a meaningful, practical and tangible way to realise children's rights to participate in decision making, whilst building an awareness of wider community needs.

More information about PB can be found on the PB Scotland website.

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