Sturgeon pledges £100m to tackle attainment gap
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced an Attainment Scotland Fund of around £100m to improve education outcomes for Scotland’s most disadvantaged communities.
Spread over four years, the fund will invest in projects inspired by successful initiatives in England such as the London Challenge, which reported a rise in standards after encouraging more collaboration between schools.
The new scheme in Scotland will be aimed at boosting literacy, numeracy and well-being in disadvantaged communities. £20m will be available this year.
“We must do all we can within the powers and resources we have to narrow the gap and drive up standards at all levels. We want each child to enjoy an education that encourages them to be the best they can be and it is imperative they are given the tools now that will help them unlock the door to a successful future,” said Sturgeon.
Scottish Labour proposed £25m investment last week. Education spokesperson Iain Gray welcomed the new plans, and wrote to his SNP counterpart Angela Constance to ask for progress in reducing inequality to be formally tracked. “The resources are welcome, but they must be targeted and must support teachers, parents and pupils directly if we are to begin to close the attainment gap. Spreading these resources too thinly will not achieve our purpose,” he said.
Teaching union EIS warned schemes would only work if backed up with resources. General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: "The London Challenge, in particular, was underpinned by substantial investment and significant increases in staffing resource to support the scheme. The key to tackling poverty and inequality is to step up investment in our schools while also increasing the number teachers working with pupils in our classrooms."
The Scottish Liberal Democrats said funds should be focused on early years and childcare.