Scottish Government announces refresh of Scottish Attainment Challenge

The Scottish Government has announced a refresh of the Scottish Attainment Challenge, which will include an emphasis on schools and local authorities collaborating with youth work and other CLD partners in the community to help close the poverty-related attainment gap.

In an update to Parliament outlining plans for the next phase of the £1bn Scottish Attainment Challenge, Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville confirmed £200 million of funding for the year ahead - part of the government's plan for a system-wide approach to closing the attainment gap and supporting young people's education recovery following Covid-19.

A redesigned approach to the Challenge will see funding of £43 million extended to all of Scotland’s local authorities to help tackle the attainment gap and support education recovery.

By encouraging more collaborative work across the many services which contribute to the narrowing of the gap, the new framework will aim to use education to improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty - looking beyond simply pupils' results.

Key points on the new framework:

  • Schools and local authorities will be encouraged to collaborate with other services such as CLD, youth work, social work or family support to overcome barriers to learning
  • The refresh will see strengthened support for children and young people's wellbeing
  • Framework will see a shift in language to focus on achievement, i.e. wider than Nationals/Highers and inclusive of other nationally-recognised awards and certificates
  • Importance of family support and home environment on children and young people's capacity for learning will be taken into account

Commenting on the announcement, YouthLink Scotland CEO Tim Frew said: “The Scottish Attainment Challenge is vital to achieving equity in Scotland’s educational outcomes, and today’s announcement of the continuation of Attainment Scotland Funding demonstrates Scottish Government’s dedication to tackling this issue.  

"Youth work has demonstrated throughout the pandemic that it has a vital role to play in this process by addressing food insecurity, engaging young people in learning, supporting transitions, and tackling loss of learning.

"The Youth Work Education Recovery Fund has meant youth work and educational partners could deliver effective, innovative and evidence-driven approaches to achieving equity and address the poverty-related attainment gap. Meanwhile, the Outdoor Education Recovery Fund is helping to provide high quality outdoor educational experiences to support young people’s recovery.

"By continuing to work within schools and providing a bridging link to services in the community, youth work has a vital role to play in a whole education system approach to support our most vulnerable learners, and we look forward to continuing our work with Scottish Government and key partners to help close Scotland’s poverty-related attainment gap.” 

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