Guest Blog: Director of Education Maureen McKenna on the Scottish Attainment Challenge

March 22, 2021 by No Comments | Category Uncategorized

We welcome a guest blog from Director of Education for Glasgow Maureen McKenna, who reflects on her local authority’s journey with the Scottish Attainment Challenge and progress made in the past ten years.
Glasgow has been involved in the Attainment Challenge since its inception. From the outset we wanted to use this opportunity to enhance and accelerate our journey of improvement by taking a holistic approach which included all schools and nurseries across the city.

We knew from our work to date that investing in high quality learning and teaching was key to success. We are a large, diverse city with high levels of deprivation, so we also knew that it is was critical that schools had ownership of their own improvement agenda. While the central support is a key factor in bringing about improvement we would only get systemic and sustainable change if schools worked with their own communities – staff, pupils and parents – and developed approaches which reflected their local context.

As well as schools having Pupil Equity Funding, over 75% of the finance allocated to the local authority through the Attainment Challenge goes directly to schools either as additional teachers in primary schools or devolved directly to secondary schools.

We have relentlessly focused on improving learning and teaching, always reflecting on what works and adapting and changing, where necessary. Initiatives such as Improving Our Classrooms have been successful because of the direct impact on classroom delivery. Our partnership with Tapestry has resulted in thousands of teachers across the city working collaboratively within and across schools using one of three approaches. From December 2021, these programmes will belong to Glasgow and we will be able to continue to support our schools with a clear focus on improving learning and teaching.

Family learning has evolved and improved over the last five years. Innovative partnerships have been created with third sector to enable our schools and nurseries to meet the needs of our parents, particularly those who don’t have English as their first language. A positive outcome from the pandemic has been improved partnerships with families and we will continue to build on this throughout 2021.

Over the last decade, we have continued to raise attainment and achievement, particularly for those young people who live in the most deprived communities. For quintile 1 (20% most deprived), Glasgow consistently performs above the national average for the proportion of young people achieving level 6 awards. This is a particularly important measure as around 60% of our young people live in the 20% most deprived postcodes of Scotland. In fact, over 40% live in the 10% most deprived postcodes.

I am immensely proud of the achievements of our schools – this success is the result of all staff in all schools and nurseries having the highest expectations for each and every one of our children and young people. A number of years ago, we set ourselves an ambition to be a nurturing city – it is clear that while there is still more to do – we are well on our way to achieving that ambition.

More information on the Scottish Attainment Challenge can be found here.


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