Half a billion pound fund to help Scots schools close attainment gap

The decision comes after the gap between the most deprived and least deprived pupils’ school results increased last year.

Scotland’s headteachers to receive £520m fund to help close attainment gap iStock
Pupil Equity Funding totalling £520m will be distributed to schools in every council area.

Scotland’s headteachers are set to receive more than half a billion pounds over the next four years to help close the attainment gap, it has been announced.

The Scottish Government said Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) totalling £520m will be distributed to schools in every council area over the next four years to help teachers put in place more support for pupils.

The decision comes after the country’s attainment gap between the most deprived and least deprived pupils’ school results increased slightly from 2020 to 2021.

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Tackling the poverty-related attainment gap and giving every young person the chance to fulfil their full potential remains our priority, and we are investing an increased £1bn through schools and local authorities over the course of this Parliament to support this ambition.

“Our headteachers and teachers know their pupils best and have told us that our measures are working. We are determined to ensure they are empowered to take the approaches that are right for the children and young people in their schools to help improve attainment.

“Our allocation of more than £520m of PEF for the next four years will give headteachers the confidence and security they need to plan long term. However, we know schools can’t do this alone, and headteachers should work in partnership with each other, Education Scotland and their local authority, to agree the use of the funding.”

St Francis Primary School headteacher Margot MacAlister said: “Pupil Equity Funding has been key in allowing me to deliver my vision for the community I serve.

“From the beginning it has provided me with stability in terms of funding posts previously reliant on my devolved budget.

“This has allowed me to build purposeful and trusting working relationships with partners over time that bring a great richness to a child’s learning experience.

“Our nurture programme and now our EXCEL programme has become embed in the culture and ethos of the school and addresses the whole child now and in the future.”

Lat year, results from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) show that those in the fifth most deprived areas achieved A to C grades at a lower rate than those in the fifth least deprived areas.

For Higher results, the difference went from 6.5% last year to 7.9% in the 2021 results.

Both of these were down considerably from the pre-pandemic figures in 2019, which showed a 16.9% gap.