Have you already read my previous article, regarding the basic topics of the Scottish education system, and you want to have some more? Then carry on reading! In this article I’m going to give you some basic information on the Scottish Attainment Challenge Policy and why it’s important.
What is it?
The Scottish Attainment Challenge Policy is, as its name shows, a policy. It’s one of the many education policies in Scotland that support children in developing their full potential. Its main characteristic is that it’s closely related to poverty and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). This policy is a high priority for the Scottish government, as well as for all schools around Scotland.
What’s its purpose?
The policy’s aim is to achieve equity in education, by ensuring every child has the same opportunity to succeed, with a particular focus on closing the poverty–related attainment gap. If you teach in Scotland, you’ll hear the phrase “Closing the gap” a lot. This means that schools try to reduce (and eventually close) the gap between the progress which is made between children living in the least and most deprived areas. The focus is particularly on activity improvement, especially in the three core areas of Literacy, Numeracy and Health & Well-being.
How do schools achieve this?
Here comes the SIMD, which stands for Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. Schools use this index to help them understand the level of deprivation in which a child lives. It’s important for schools to know that, as deprivation and ACE is closely related to low attainment in school. A child, who faces a hard childhood due to these factors, finds it difficult to keep up in school. Once schools know the SIMD of each child, they offer extra support to pupils who struggle with their attainment in Literacy, Numeracy and Health & Well-being.
Usually, a member of staff (it could be an experienced teacher) supports children living in deprivation, by working on a one-on-one basis with them in school and making sure they’ll meet the curriculum outcomes. Most schools offer their pupils “nurture”, which means that pupils get access to a special organised room where they play, eat and have fun with their friends. Through this, pupils have a nice start in their day and feel cared for.
Moreover, schools offer the opportunity of free meals to those who need it the most. There are pupils around the country whose parents can’t afford a daily meal for them, therefore, a free school meal is a very good and necessary solution. Apart from this, schools do much more to tackle deprivation. Some of the many things they do is to offer their pupils the opportunity to exercise and do activities outside the classroom (outdoor learning), as well as to establish a healthy routine and encourage healthy choices (wash hands, have a healthy snack). Furthermore, they promote reading for pleasure, with a particular focus on nurturing a love for books and enriching their vocabulary.
Concluding, I can say that I’m glad that I work in a country that pays so much attention in equality and tries hard for children’s future. Before moving to Scotland, which is supposed to be a rich country, with high salaries and a high quality of life, I couldn’t imagine how much deprivation exists here. It’s really sad to know that a percentage of children struggles every day, but it’s harder to see it with your own eyes in your own classroom. Let’s just hope that, as long as there are children facing these kinds of difficulties, there will always be people to care about their future.
For more information on the Scottish Attainment Challenge Policy you can have a look here.
Have a look here for the Scottish Deprivation map.
Sara Tsompanidi is a content writer, based in Edinburgh. Her educational background in primary teaching and her multicultural experiences have given her a broad base to approach education topics. She especially enjoys sharing her experiences and providing practical advice to educators who are making their first steps in Scotland.
(You can contact her here: firstname.lastname@example.org or find more about her here: https://twitter.com/STsompanidi)