Scotland

Spending plans to raise Scottish schools' attainment

John Swinney in a classroom Image copyright PA

Details of how the latest tranche of government money will be allocated to help Scottish schools deal with disadvantage have been announced.

The £50m is being targeted at the councils and schools which face some of the biggest challenges.

The Scottish government plans to spend £750m on raising attainment over the course of this parliament.

Education Secretary John Swinney announced the details on a visit to Clydebank High School.

A total of £43m will be spread between nine councils - Clackmannanshire, Dundee, East Ayrshire, Glasgow, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire.

Glasgow will receive £8m and North Lanarkshire £7.5m.

A total of 74 individual schools in other council areas will also get a share of £7m.

'Life chances'

While at the West Dunbartonshire school, Mr Swinney heard how government money had been used on a variety of schemes to raise attainment - from new technology to a scheme which helps young people and their families access extra support to help them overcome problems which may stop them from achieving well.

West Dunbartonshire has received a total of £13.8m from the government in recent years to help fund such schemes.

It is up to individual schools and councils to decide how to spend the money.

Image copyright PA
Image caption John Swinney speaking to pupils at Clydebank High School where he announced the plans

Mr Swinney said: "Improving the education and life chances of our children and young people is the defining mission of this government.

"Central to this is the Scottish Attainment Challenge which is supporting hundreds of schools to develop approaches to improve literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing that raise attainment and help close the poverty-related gap.

"This investment is starting to make a real impact. In West Dunbartonshire, inspectors found that the attainment of children and young people is improving, with significant progress in the attainment of young people living in SIMD areas 1 and 2 (the most disadvantaged areas)."

'Campus cops'

The £750m total includes funding from the Scottish Attainment Challenge fund.

It also includes the money being given straight to head teachers - Pupil Equity Funding - which depends on the number of children eligible for free meals.

Among the other things schools across Scotland have spent the government money on are additional staff and "campus cops" - police officers who work closely with the school and its pupils.

Labour has expressed concern that some money may be spent on things which councils previously funded out of their own resources.

The party said said Dundee City Council had scrapped primary school swimming lessons but that schools had been told they could use the money designed to raise attainment to pay for them if they wanted to.

Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: "Any funding to try and close Scotland's shameful attainment gap is of course welcome.

"But the reality is the SNP's swingeing cuts to school budgets mean this money is often being used to simply maintain basic services, rather than improve attainment."

He added: "Rather than making a song and dance of distributing money that has already been announced, John Swinney would be better off getting his government to properly fund our schools in the first place, so this funding is genuinely additional."

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