Funding of £215m to close attainment gap is announced

Reducing the attainment gap remains ‘central’ to government’s work, says education secretary

Tes Reporter

Funding of £215m to close attainment gap is announced

Schools will receive £215 million funding for efforts to close the “poverty-related attainment gap” in 2021-22.

The sum forms part of the Scottish government’s commitment to the £1 billion Attainment Scotland Fund in the new Parliament.

It is the largest amount allocated for a single year to tackle the issue.

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It will see headteachers across the country share £147 million in pupil equity funding in 2021-22, with the money going directly to schools.

Nine councils with the highest concentrations of deprivation in Scotland – known as Challenge Authorities – will share a further £43 million.

Work to help improve the attainment of youngsters who have been in care, including through schemes such as mentoring programmes, will receive up to £12 million.

Another £7 million will be shared between 73 additional schools with the highest concentration of pupils from deprived areas, with the same amount going to national programmes – including those run by the third or non-profit sector – which work to raise attainment.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly stated that closing the attainment gap is a top priority but her government has faced criticism for its record in this area.

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said that “closing the poverty-related attainment gap and ensuring every young person has the chance to fulfil their potential remains central to this government’s work”.

She added: “Our ambition is a long-term one and we know that the challenges presented by the pandemic mean our efforts to deliver equity in education are more vital than ever.

“This first instalment of the expanded Attainment Scotland Fund, with record funding of more than £215 million, will allow headteachers, schools, councils and other partners to provide targeted help for some of our most disadvantaged pupils.

“We are providing investment across a number of diverse programmes, which will benefit looked-after children, support pupils in our most deprived areas and empower headteachers to invest their funding on initiatives that are right for the children in their schools.”

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