SCDE Attainment Challenge Project

Developing Pedagogies that work for Pre-Service and Early Career Teachers to reduce the Attainment Gap in Literacy, Numeracy and Health and Wellbeing

In February 2015, the Scottish Government launched the Scottish Attainment Challenge to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap in Scotland and improve achievement in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing for pupils living in areas of high deprivation. As part of this effort, the Scottish Council of Deans of Education were invited to develop a research agenda in the field of teacher education. In early 2018, funding was secured from the Scottish Government for a three year research programme involving representatives of the eight Schools of Education providing initial teacher education (ITE) across Scotland at that time.

The broad aim informing the suite of projects is to research how the sector might better prepare early career teachers (understood as final year ITE and probationer year) to work more effectively to improve literacy and numeracy attainment and health and wellbeing outcomes in schools serving pupils from SIMD 1-40 backgrounds. Under this common purpose, the research programme has three strands of activity.

Firstly, a collaborative project aims to resource a conversation across the national sector. The project is designed as four sequential phases -

AUDIT: What do we in teacher education institutions collectively do currently to support early career practitioners to work effectively with pupils from SIMD 1-40 backgrounds?

EVALUATION: Of our current practice, what do we do well and what could we do better?

RESOURCE: What other practice or research might assist us in our purpose?

REFORM: How can we improve teacher education so our early career teachers are more effective in improving the engagement and attainment of pupils?

Secondly, each of the eight participating schools of education will conduct a research project reflecting their particular context and priorities.

Thirdly, three PhD studentships have been funded, to be hosted by the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.

PIs & Co-Is

Principal Investigators:


Project Reference Committee Members:

  • Dr Archie Graham, University of Aberdeen
  • Dr Dean Robson, University of Aberdeen
  • Dr Jim Scott, University of Dundee
  • Mr Derek Robertson, University of Dundee
  • Professor Do Coyle, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Laura Colucci-Gray, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Yvonne Foley, University of Edinburgh
  • Ramone Al Bishawi, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Kevin Proudfoot, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Morag Redford, University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Mr Mark Lindley-Highfield University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Dr John I’Anson, University of Stirling
  • Dr Alison Jasper, University of Stirling
  • Professor Kate Wall, University of Strathclyde
  • Professor Ian Rivers, University of Strathclyde
  • Dr Stephen Day, University of the West of Scotland
  • Mrs Carol Webster, University of the West of Scotland

PhD Students

  • Mr Christian Hanser, University of Edinburgh
  • Mrs Julie Przyborksi, University of Glasgow

Start and End Date

June 2017 - August 2021

Funder and funding amount

Scottish Government, Learning Directorate


Related Publications

Project News


  • Beyond business as usual: Rethinking teacher education for the Attainment Challenge. Presented at Scottish Learning Festival, Glasgow, September 2019.
  • Beyond business as usual: Rethinking teacher education for the Attainment Challenge. Focus on numeracy. Presented at Scottish Council of Deans of Education Forum, Stirling, October 2019
  • Two presentation with Scottish Government learning Directorate and Education Scotland to explore and engage with Reports 1 and 2 of the project.

The final phase of the project will commenced in August 2020. The findings from the individual university projects were reported at the end of June 2020 and used to inform next steps in the coming year.

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