Smart money on attainment
£100 million fund created to improve educational outcomes.
A new Scottish Attainment Challenge has been announced yesterday by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The Challenge will be backed by an Attainment Scotland Fund of more than £100 million over four years to drive forward improvements on educational outcomes in Scotland’s most disadvantaged communities.
The four-year Attainment Scotland Fund will be targeted initially at schools in the local authorities with the biggest concentrations of households in deprived areas. It will focus on improving literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing in primary schools in these areas, with the clear objective being to give all primary-school age pupils – regardless of background - the best start in life.
The Scottish Attainment Challenge will draw on the experience of the London Challenge which helped transform school performance in the city, and other international experiences.
The first tranche of funding will see £20 million made available this year to support children and young people in a number of Scotland’s most disadvantaged communities to achieve their potential.
This year’s initial funding was announced in the Deputy First Minister’s budget last week.
Complementing the Scottish Government’s existing work to address attainment inequality, schools in these areas will benefit from greater access to expertise and resources – such as additional teachers, materials for classrooms or resource to develop new out of school activities.
National and local partners will work together to identify the specific work that can be implemented successfully in classrooms and which will have a significant impact on the attainment of children from deprived communities.
A bespoke improvement plan, appropriate to local circumstances, will be agreed for each school or cluster of schools. This will include an agreement to gather, in a proportionate way, the data that will be required to measure the impact of the interventions supported.
The First Minister launched the scheme on a visit to the St Joseph’s Primary, Victoria Park Primary and Balgay Hill Nursery campus in Dundee, where she also addressed an audience of teachers, student teachers and education leaders.
She said yesterday:
“Education is both key to the future of Scotland’s children and an investment in the future of Scotland’s economic health. We know school education in Scotland is getting better, with record exam results and a record number of school leavers in work, education or training.
“While we are proud of what has been achieved, we have long recognised attainment as being an important area where improvement is needed and initiatives such as our Raising Attainment For All Programme are already starting to make a positive impact.
“But we know that much more needs to be done as too many of our young people have life chances narrowed by circumstances out of their control. The establishment of the Scottish Attainment Challenge, backed by the Attainment Scotland Fund, signals how strongly we are committed to righting that wrong.
“As I have seen today in Dundee, great things are already happening in schools across Scotland. By providing greater access to funding, expertise and resources, schools will have more opportunity to offer the creative and innovative teaching that helps our young people succeed.
“It is important we learn not just from good practice here in Scotland, but also from elsewhere in the UK and overseas, to find ways of working that have the greatest impact. I have been particularly impressed with the results of the London Challenge in transforming school performance in that city and so, while not all of it will be appropriate to Scottish circumstances, we will draw heavily on it in developing our own Attainment Challenge.
“We must do all we can within the powers and resources we have to narrow the gap and drive up standards at all levels. We want each child to enjoy an education that encourages them to be the best they can be and it is imperative they are given the tools now that will help them unlock the door to a successful future.”
Notes To Editors
Local authorities will be identified through use of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.
Yesterday’s announcement builds on several existing initiatives aimed at improving educational attainment across Scotland.
The Raising Attainment For All Programme was launched in Glasgow in June 2014, with 150 schools working in regional groupings focussed on improving attainment: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Education/Schools/Raisingeducationalattainment/RAFA
The School Improvement Partnership Programme was launched in 2013 to help tackle the link between socio-economic deprivation and low educational attainment. Research recently published shows good progress is being made with some partnerships experiencing a positive impact on teachers and learners: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/newsandevents/educationnews/2014/pressreleases/november/news_tcm4844544.asp
The Access to Education fund was established to help reduce barriers to learning experienced by pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, with £1.5 million awarded in December to projects across Scotland and another £1.5 million to be awarded later this year: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Commitment-to-raising-attainment-for-all-12df.aspx
Read more about the Scottish Government’s spending plans, set out by the Deputy First Minister in his budget to Parliament: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Health-and-Education-at-heart-of-budget-159b.aspx
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