The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) is about achieving equity in educational outcomes, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. It focuses on accelerated targeted improvement activity in literacy, numeracy and health and well-being.
A suite of Interventions for Equity has been designed and developed to support schools in the process of selecting interventions and approaches which can contribute to closing the attainment gap between our most and least disadvantaged children. This resource should be used alongside:
- Pupil Equity Funding – National Operational Guidance
- Driving Excellence and Equity: Advice on School Improvement Planning 2018/19
- How good is our school? (4th edition) (HGIOS?4)
- How Good is our Early Learning and Childcare? (HGIOLEC?)
Decision making and use of the Pupil Equity Funding (PEF)
Decisions schools make about the most appropriate interventions and approaches should be based on effective self-evaluation and improvement planning, including robust measures of impact and progress. Planning for the use of the PEF should be integrated into ongoing self-evaluation and improvement planning processes. When making decisions about the most impactful use of PEF schools should:
- Form an in-depth understanding of the specific challenges and needs in the local context;
- Involve parents and partners throughout the process;
- Explore opportunities to work collaboratively between and beyond schools into the communities where children and their families live;
- Identify interventions that can be targeted at the children and young people who are most disadvantaged;
- Consider the scale and sustainability of possible interventions and approaches;
- Consider and clearly articulate the equity focused outcomes that will be achieved; and
- Have a clear understanding of how the impact of interventions will be measured and how progress will be monitored.
The recent Driving Excellence and Equity: Advice on School Improvement Planning 2018/19, together with HGIOS?4 and HGIOELC? should be used to support improvement planning. The guidance given in these documents provides essential advice to schools about creating a meaningful improvement plan in line with the key priorities of the National Improvement Framework (NIF) which are:
- Improvement in attainment, particularly in literacy and numeracy;
- Closing the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged children;
- Improvement in children and young people's health and wellbeing; and
- Improvement in employability skills and sustained positive school leaver destinations for all young people.
In selecting the most impactful Interventions and approaches that will contribute towards addressing the poverty related attainment gap in any given context it is essential to identify the targeted group of children or young people. This should be done using available data and information as exemplified in a number of the quality indicators within HGIOS?4 and HGIOELC?. Establishing baseline measures and clearly articulated outcomes and measures of impact is necessary in defining progress and next steps for targeted individuals and groups.
Interventions for Equity - Structure
Interventions for Equity have been structured in a framework that consists of 12 approaches. These are designed to support improvement by helping practitioners to prioritise their focus on closing the equity gap and raising the attainment of children from the most deprived areas. The approaches provide a helpful basis to allow schools to address the key priorities of the Scottish Attainment Challenge and the National Improvement Framework (NIF). Although the approaches and interventions are listed individually, they cover a range of different areas and they are all interlinked.
Under each heading are examples of interventions and approaches used by schools and local authorities. These are neither exhaustive or definitive but can provide a helpful stimulus for discussions around planning. They describe how the interventions and approaches have been used in the local context, the impact they have had and relevant tools and materials that were used. Suggestions have been made in each example outlining how schools might consider using it with accompanying reflective questions to promote dialogue and debate across the local community. Schools are encouraged to work together with their local community to identify the most impactful approaches and interventions for their own local context.
This initial iteration shares a range of interventions and approaches that are currently being used across Scotland and are drawn from practice being developed in schools and local authorities. Whilst some of the interventions and approaches incurred an associated expenditure in terms of additional personnel and / or resources, some were able to be achieved within existing resources.
The Interventions for Equity articles selected will be reviewed and refreshed, as necessary. Further examples will be identified and incorporated to reflect other interventions and approaches that are proving to be successful. There will also be updates to make increased connections to relevant existing and emerging research.
Currently, a curated selection of research which evidences successful approaches to closing the poverty related attainment gap is available here, on the National Improvement Hub. This is a useful reference point for practitioners to familiarise themselves with the evidence base about how poverty affects educational attainment, and what schools and others can do to tackle this.
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) toolkits are also of particular use to schools in making decisions around equity. The EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit is an accessible summary of educational research designed to inform discussions on the most effective approaches to improving pupil attainment. It contains 34 teaching approaches and interventions, each summarised in terms of their average impact on attainment, the strength of the evidence supporting them and their cost. A version of the toolkit has been developed and is now available. This will grow over the coming months.
The EEF Early Years Toolkit summarises the evidence for early years settings. It contains 12 teaching approaches and interventions, each summarised in terms of their average impact on attainment, the strength of the evidence supporting them and their cost.
The Scottish research base will be further developed as part of a Research Strategy for Education. This will support school leaders, practitioners and partners in making decisions about the most impactful interventions and approaches to select for the context they work in.
Feedback and Further Suggestions
Educational leaders and practitioners with further intervention examples that may be worth sharing via the National Improvement Hub are invited to share these with your Attainment Advisor for initial consideration.