Scotland’s most sought after area for state schools is being inundated by families with children moving in, the public spending watchdog has found.
East Renfrewshire boasts some of the country’s top performing schools like Williamwood and St Ninian’s and is poised to see the number of children living locally increase at ten times the Scottish average.
The area is already leading the Scottish Government’s flagship push to drive down the attainment gap in the country’s education system.
The local council spends over half of its budget – about £114 million last year – on schools, according to today’s Accounts Commission report.
It praises the “clear strategy and effective planning” framework it has for education. But it warns that population increases are poised to take a toll on other services like bins being emptied and roads maintenance.
“There is long-standing, cross-party support for the education service, which has been allocated over half the council’s revenue budget for many years, largely due to the high proportion of children in the area compared with other councils,” it states.
“Councillors prize education’s role in providing young people with a springboard for a full and economically active life.”
East Renfrewshire takes in some of Glasgow’s most affluent Southside suburbs like Giffnock, Newton Mearns and Clarkston.
The performance of pupils gaining five or more awards in both Level 5 and 6 or above is the highest in Scotland overall and second highest for pupils in areas of deprivation.
The number of children living in these areas is forecast to rise by 14.4 per cent over the next two decades compared to 1.4 per cent for Scotland as a whole, according to the Best Value Assurance report prepared by Audit Scotland. The general population in the area is also poised to go up by 13.3 percent, compared with 6.6 percent nationally.
The extent of the increases are down to high housebuilding rates, but this is allied to its reputation in education. Developers can charge a premium to meet demand from parents who want to live in areas with top schools.
It is also in the vanguard of Nicola Sturgeon’s drive to reduce the attainment gap between more affluent and less well-off areas of the country which has fallen by nine points in recent years. Although relatively prosperous, there are pockets of deprivation which are among the 20 per cent least affluent parts of Scotland, the report adds.