In April 2017, £120m of additional funding will be provided to eligible schools via the Attainment Scotland Fund.
Tackling the poverty-related attainment gap with Pupil Equity Funding
The Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) is in addition to the existing £50m Attainment Scotland funding, and aims to target support at those children and young people in greatest need.
In his announcement in February about how the PEF will be allocated, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: 'I want every child in Scotland to have the best possible start in life, and it is unacceptable for children from the poorest backgrounds to have their chances limited by circumstances outside their control. This government has made clear our priority is to close the poverty-related attainment gap and our new £120m Pupil Equity Funding is aimed at doing just that.'
Who will the funding reach?
The funding will be allocated on the basis of the number of pupils in P1 to S3 who are eligible and registered for free school meals. This is a total of around 100,000 pupils, with an average of £1200 per pupil. Approximately £89.9m of the funding will be going to around 1900 primary schools.
Will my school receive PEF?
You can download a spreadsheet that shows the amount of funding each school has been allocated.
How should PEF be spent?
Funding should be focused on: 'Activities and interventions that will lead to improvements in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.' Schools must have plans at the outset to evaluate the impact of the funding, and plans for the use of PEF should be integrated with schools’ overall plans for improvement.
John Swinney said: 'Some of the options being discussed include additional teachers to help with numeracy or literacy, out of school activities to widen children’s life experiences or home link workers to help get children to school.'
However, while the overall goal of the funding is understood, it is unclear exactly how outcomes will be measured and what the targets are, and some headteachers feel that it would be helpful to have more guidance on how best to spend the money effectively.
How is the government supporting headteachers in making the best use of PEF?
Regional meetings are being held, but these have resulted in mixed feedback, with some headteachers feeling that they do not feel they have received all the information they need.
New evidence-based intervention tools to help teachers drive up pupil attainment are being provided to schools across Scotland. A suite of information about the most successful approaches and interventions, based on practice examples from around Scotland and the best available international evidence, is being made available on the Education Scotland website.
What does Pearson Primary think?
It’s fantastic to see this additional targeted funding being put towards supporting children from less advantaged backgrounds. It would be good to have some official confirmation from the government about whether these funding levels will continue in subsequent years.
We can imagine that headteachers will be feeling the weight of responsibility in deciding how best to use the funding, and ensuring they are able to provide evidence of how PEF has raised attainment. So the more the government can direct schools to practical advice and information, the better. The biggest question mark at the moment seems to be over how success will be measured.
We’ve found some useful sources of support for schools:
- The Interventions for Equity framework is based on a range of approaches that are currently being used in schools across Scotland.
- The Teaching and Learning Toolkit from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) supports schools in making evidence-based decisions on how to spend their funding.
- Glow has set up a Scottish Attainment Challenge Community, in which schools can discuss how to use the PEF, share what is working (or not), talk to Attainment Advisors, and get help for improvement objectives.
At Pearson, we have some great success stories on how we've supported schools to raise attainment of children from less advantaged backgrounds in the past and are always happy to talk to you about how other schools have done this.
Resources to support improvements in literacy, numeracy and health & wellbeing
We have a number of resources in our portfolio that can support you with the key aims of Pupil Equity Fund, but we always find a tailored conversation is best to find out your particular needs, so please get in touch.