Welcome to my first post about the Scottish Attainment Challenge. I want to share some ideas and learning related to the Scottish Attainment Challenge, and highlight a range of opinions and views in this post and others, which I hope you will find interesting and on occasions challenging. You will not agree with everything in the blog however it may spark an idea; provide the chance to pause for reflection or promote professional discussion and debate. I am also be interested in areas that you would like us to feature as part of our blog.
In education we often talk about closing the gap, however we need to know what gap it is that we are trying to address. The Scottish Attainment Challenge shines a spotlight on one particular gap – ‘ the poverty-related attainment gap’ and through this programme we want to work together to try to address this issue. Since working on this programme I have really enjoyed asking practitioners, headteachers and local authority staff about the work that is already going on as well as new ideas and plans for taking forward the Scottish Attainment Challenge. It is a complex and challenging issue but I am heartened by the commitment and enthusiasm people have to build on what is already working well as well as trying new and innovative approaches. One of my favourite quotes that I use in presentations is:
“Mankind owes to children the best it has to give. Their life is fragile. If they are to have a tomorrow their needs must be met today. Many things can wait but not the children” Gabriela Mistral.
I think it sums up the reason why I became a teacher and why I continue to have a passion for education.
I am delighted that we have our team of Attainment Advisors in place. The team have a range of experience in different aspects of education and this means that we have stimulating and lively discussions with each other to help challenge our thinking. We meet regularly in smaller groups and come together every month as an entire team. We are continuing to develop the role of Attainment Advisor and we recognise the importance of sharing learning and exploring ways that we can support and challenge when working with schools and local authorities. Recently we held a discussion seminar with local authority representatives along with the Attainment Advisors. We explored local authority priorities and ways in which Attainment Advisors can work with local authority staff and individual schools or clusters of schools. It is particularly important for the team to develop a clear plan of how they are working with schools and how the plan will support the priorities of local authorities and schools to tackle the poverty –related Attainment gap.
The announcement of the Scottish Attainment Challenge Innovation Fund provides schools not currently benefitting from the Attainment Scotland Fund access to some additional finance to fund projects aimed at reducing the poverty-related attainment gap. We are keen to fund creative and innovative projects that will raise attainment in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing and I am particularly interested in projects which promote collaborative learning and enquiry to critically examine current arrangements, make changes based on evidence, monitor the impact of these changes and refine and adapt them as appropriate. This will also support practitioners to learn from each other and share learning within, between and beyond schools to help us promote what is working across Scotland. I am looking forward to reading the range of bids submitted.