Support for Headteachers

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£530m to Help Close Attainment Gap

Scotland’s headteachers will receive more than half a billion pounds of secured funding over the next four years to help close the attainment gap.

Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) totalling £520 million will be distributed to schools in every council area to help headteachers put in place more support for children and young people.

PEF is allocated directly to schools, with 97% of schools in every council area benefitting. The funding has now been confirmed for multiple years to provide more certainty for headteachers and allow for longer-term planning.

It is part of an overall £1bn investment over the course of this Parliament in the Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC), which is about achieving equity in education – with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. That is up from the £750 million spent in the previous Parliamentary term.

In addition to the Pupil Equity Funding, the SAC will continue to provide support for children and young people impacted by poverty through funding to local authorities, Care Experienced Children and Young People funding and a number of national programmes including youth work and mentoring. The refreshed programme, from 2022/23, will include approximately £11.5 million continued support for care experienced children and young people – contributing to efforts across all services to keep the Promise.

It will also see a clearer and funded strategic role for all local authorities, with funding of over £43 million to be distributed to every local authority based on Children in Low Income Families Data – as opposed to the Challenge Authorities model which distributed funding to nine local authorities. As agreed with COSLA, in order to manage this change in distribution, the allocations will taper over four years towards a fully equitable distribution in 2025/26, ensuring children and young people are supported across the country.

In 2022/23 itself, there will be an investment of up to £200 million to support children and young people impacted by poverty.

– Graeme 

The refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge demonstrates the strength of this Scottish Government’s ambition where closing the poverty-related attainment gap is concerned – and goes hand-in-hand with its efforts to end child poverty itself.

I am pleased that schools and pupils across Angus will continue to benefit from Pupil Equity Funding, and hope that the fact this is now confirmed for four years helps our headteachers with their planning.

Teachers are best-placed to direct this support, and the 2020 headteacher survey provided the clear feedback that the Scottish Government’s approach is having the desired effect.

Long may that continue.

– Education Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville

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 £1 billion 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 £520 million 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.


The 2020 headteacher survey found:

  • 98% headteachers felt they understood the challenges faced by pupils affected by poverty
  • 90% of headteachers reported they had seen an improvement in closing the gap in their schools in the past five years
  • 88% of headteachers expect to see improvements in closing the gap over the next five years
  • 84% of headteachers felt that the approach to achieving equity was embedded within their school

A breakdown of PEF allocations by local authority