24 November 2021

New funding for Scottish Attainment Challenge approach and supporting education recovery

The Scottish Government has announced (23 November) £200 million of targeted funding as part of a redesigned approach to tackling the Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC).

The funding will be used to support the needs of children and young people whose lives have been impacted by poverty, by supporting education recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and helping them to reach their full potential.

£11.5 million of the new funding has been earmarked to improve the educational and wellbeing outcomes of children and young people with care experience as part of the Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund. This fund can be used to fund initiatives that could benefit a number of children and families, or activities that are specific to the needs of an individual child or family, to positively support their educational attainment.

£130 million will be distributed to schools via Pupil Equity Funding, allowing head teachers to decide how this could be used to best support pupils in their individual schools.

Making the announcement, Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Closing the attainment gap remains our key long-term ambition. We are increasing our investment to £1 billion over this parliamentary term to support education recovery and improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty.

“We are determined to increase the pace of this crucial work and to ensure children and young people across different parts of Scotland reach their full potential. Our head teachers and teachers know their pupils best, and they have our full trust to help achieve this backed by £200 million for the year ahead. Schools can’t do this alone and we have fully aligned our work on closing the attainment gap with wider work to tackle child poverty.

“Nothing is more important than ensuring every child and young person has the same opportunity to succeed in education, regardless of their background – we will deliver this for them.” 

Claire Burns, Director (Acting) of CELCIS, the Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection said:

"Children and young people with care experience may need additional support during their time in school to meet their needs, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Today’s welcome announcement of continued funding is instrumental in supporting how we close the persistent attainment gap that exists in Scotland, improve educational experiences and outcomes for all our children, and work together to keep The Promise of the Independent Care Review.

"The growth of Virtual School Head Teachers (VSHTs) in over half of Scotland’s local authorities has played a vital role in creating positive, settled environments where children and young people’s views and experiences are embedded throughout their journeys into, through, and beyond formal education. This has been bolstered by the development of Scotland’s Virtual School Head Teachers’ and Care Experienced Teams' Network, supported and hosted by CELCIS, to share learning between VSHTs on how to best support pupils with care experience.

“Strengthening the support, leadership, guidance and impact of the Virtual School Head Teacher role and network enables VSHTs to respond quickly to the needs of children, young people, their families and carers." 

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