1. Table of contents

Background to DSM Scheme/School Empowerment

Devolved School Management (DSM) was introduced in 1993 by the then Scottish Executive and since then it has been subject to reviews in 2006 and 2012. As part of the Scottish Government's Fair Funding Review in 2017 it was agreed to consult on changes to the scheme to support Empowerment of headteachers and closing the attainment gap.

A Fair Funding Review Group was established, and significant consultation was undertaken with teaching unions and professional associations (ie ADES/SOLACE).

The consultation work resulted in new DSM Guidelines being produced in June 2019.

The Scottish Government asked that all local authorities review their local schemes by April 2021, but this was extended due to COVID to 2022.

Scottish Government Strategies & Key Principles that underpin DSM

Scottish Government Strategies

  • Headteacher Charter for School Empowerment
  • Scottish Attainment Challenge – including Pupil & Strategic Equity Funds (PEF & SEF)
  • Education Reform – Joint Agreement with COSLA in June 2018
  • National Improvement Framework

Key principles that underpin DSM Scheme

  • Subsidiarity & Empowerment
  • Collaboration
  • Accountability & Responsibility
  • Clarity & Equity

Aims of DSM Guidelines

The DSM Guidelines offered local authorities the chance to:

  • Review their own schemes
  • Consider embedding and aligning new approaches and methodologies into their schemes
  • Apply consistency of approach by:
    • Linking to Regional Improvement Collaborative (RIC) partners
    • Reviewing the good practice examples quoted in the Guidelines
    • Reviewing consultation and training approaches

The Guidelines also provided suggestions and examples on how to develop and take forward workstreams covering the following areas:

  • Format, look and publication of local DSM Schemes
  • Training, Consultation, Collaboration & Engagement
  • Staffing Models
  • Professional support for schools/headteachers
  • Accounting & Financial arrangements
  • Periodic Review of local DSM Schemes

How Children's Services progressed the new DSM Guidelines

DSM Review Groups were established

  • Early Years & Primary Sector
  • Secondary & ASN Sector

Collaborative Working

  • Engagement with colleagues in other Councils (via Regional Improvement Collaborative)
  • Participation & Engagement with professional association (Association of Directors of Education Scotland - ADES) to share best practice

Reporting of progress updates

  • Education, Children & Young People Executive (EC&YPE)
  • Service Partnership Forum (all trade unions)
  • Local Negotiating Committee for Teachers (teacher trade unions)
  • Scottish Government, COSLA and ADES
  • Elected Member updates

Review of Existing DSM Scheme

  • Completed the initial review for 2022-23 (EC&YPE June 2022)
  • Updated action plan for 2023-2024 (EC&YPE May 2023)

How Children's Services use DSM to allocate resources to schools

A Devolved School Funding & Resources Statement is provided to HTs annually, prior to the start of the school academic year in August. This shows:

  • How core staffing & financial resources are allocated (using pupil numbers & specific weighting factors)

The statement covers 5 specific areas of core devolved resource allocations:

  • Staffing Resource
  • Supply Cover
  • Staff Development
  • Property Costs
  • Per Capita

DSM statements are issued to all of the following education establishments annually:

  • Nursery classes/Early Learning & Childcare Centres
  • Primary schools
  • Secondary schools
  • Special/ASN schools

The DSM statement will also include additional staffing and resource allocation where applicable in respect of:

  • Enhanced provision or Additional support classes
  • Pupil specific support for learning staff
  • DSM carry forward funds

Additional statements are also produced as required in respect of any external funding provision:

  • ie Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) etc

How schools use and manage devolved funds

Staffing resources

  • To create an additional class (primary sector)
  • To fund recruitment of additional probationer teachers
  • To create additional teaching or management flexibility
  • To set up local initiatives – pre or after school activities/support for families etc

Financial resources (Per-Capita & School Funds)

  • To purchase additional school equipment or educational materials.
  • To "save funding" over a longer term to allow purchase of larger items (reading schemes, minibus etc). This is done via the DSM Carry Forward rules (financial year end is not the same as the academic year end).
  • Governance and use of School Funds (locally raised monies) to augment educational initiatives within the school (school shows, educational day and residential trips, and Christmas events etc).
  • To support local projects (raise attainment, close the attainment gap or reduce lateness/absence).
  • To support local community events (Gala's, Fairs – with Parent Council support).
Devolved Staffing Total
Early Years Primary Secondary Special
Teaching Staff (c.£109m)  1,504.2  0.0  0.0%  691.7  46.0%  736.9  49.0%  75.6  5.0% 
Support Staff (c.£35m)  1,122.1  603.0  53.8%  267.1  23.8%  185.7  16.5%  66.4  5.9% 
Total Devolved Staffing
2,626.3  603.0  23.0%  958.7  36.5%  922.6  35.1%  142.0  5.4% 
Other Devolved Funds Total
Early Years Primary Secondary Special
Amount Amount Amount Amount Amount
Per Capita  £1,622,660  £244,619  15.1%  £462,431  28.5%  £846,046  52.1%  £69,564  4.3% 
Teacher Supply Cover  £258,890  £0  0.0%  £236,530  91.4%  -£3,500  -1.4%  £25,860  10.0% 
Staff Development  £215,670  £48,240  22.4%  £79,990  37.1%  £74,430  34.5%  £13,010  6.0% 
Property Repairs  £156,000  £6,300  4.0%  £145,250  93.1%  £0  0.0%  £4,450  2.9% 
ASN / EP   £49,920  £0  0.0%  £39,620  79.4%  £10,300  20.6%  £0  0.0% 
Total Devolved Funding  £2,303,140  £299,159  13.0%  £963,821  41.8%  £927,276  40.3%  £112,884  4.9% 

Example of school DSM Funding & Resources Statements


Example of school DSM Funding & Resources Statements

Future challenges, opportunities & areas for future review


  • Scottish Government, Local Government and schools working within a reduced funding envelope
  • Scottish Government interventions on school staff numbers and learning hours
  • Financial/Budget Issues – at National, Local, Service & School level


  • Collaborative Improvement/Networked learning system
  • National Discussion on future of Scottish Education
  • Opportunities through the Education Reform agenda

Areas for future review

A report, titled "Falkirk Council Review of Devolved School Management (DSM) Scheme" was submitted to Education, Children and Young People Executive on 30 May 2023 with 10 areas for future review:

  • Per Capita
  • Primary School - Core Management Time allocations
  • Primary Schools – Additional Management Time and Teacher Allocations
  • Primary Schools - Provision of Non-Class Contact Time (NCCT) via PE/Music teachers
  • Secondary school Management Structures and Management Time
  • Non-teaching Classroom and Pupil Support Staff allocations
  • Secondary schools – Core teaching resource allocation process
  • Participatory Budgeting
  • Supporting reductions in bureaucracy
  • Consideration of a 2 or 3 Year DSM funding model for schools