1500 schools missing achievement gap funding, say Labour

Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale MSP. Picture: Phil WilkinsonScottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale MSP. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale MSP. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
ALMOST 85 per cent of Scotland's schools receive no dedicated funding to help them cut the achievement gap between rich and poor pupils, Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has said.

Ms Dugdale claimed more than 1,500 schools do not benefit from cash from the Scottish Government to tackle the problem, adding 11 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities also miss out.

The Scottish Government is investing £100 million in an attainment fund, with ministers insisting the money is “already making a difference to 54,399 children in 300 schools”.

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Ms Dugdale said: “More than 1,500 schools in Scotland get no extra support from the SNP government to cut the attainment gap, and neither do one-third of our councils

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“The SNP budget will just make things worse, with £500 million of cuts to local councils for services like schools.”

Ending the gap between deprived youngsters and those from affluent communities is a key ambition of the First Minister and Education Secretary Angela Constance.

When the SNP came to power in 2007-08, almost 8 per cent of school leavers from the poorest areas had no qualifications, but by 2013-14 this had fallen to 3.2 per cent

Labour has outlined plans to set up a fair start fund if it wins May’s Holyrood elections, saying this would provide £78 million a year to help 72,000 youngsters.

It would be paid for by increasing the top rate of income tax to 50p, with the additional cash going straight to schools where head teachers could decide how best to spend it.

Ms Dugdale said: “I want every young person to get the best possible start in life. That means cutting the gap between the richest and the rest in our classrooms, but right now it is a postcode lottery.”

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She made the comments as she visited a school in Newcastle to see what action the Labour local authority there is taking to improve attainment.

Ms Dugdale said: “A Scottish Labour government would ask those lucky enough to earn over £150,000 a year to pay a little bit more in tax so we can create a fair start fund to invest in our young people.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Almost £5 billion is invested through local authorities delivering education in Scotland annually, with the additional £100 million Attainment Scotland Fund specifically targeting the areas of greatest need in our most-deprived communities. It is already making a difference to 54,399 children in 300 schools.

“This targeted support is in addition to the £51 million councils receive from the Scottish Government to maintain teacher numbers.

“A further £3 million is being delivered through the Attainment Challenge Innovation Fund and Access to Education Fund, and attainment advisers are in place in every council in Scotland to co-ordinate this