Scottish schools in poorest areas to get £45m

More than £45 million is to go to schools in Scotland's most deprived areas to help close the gap in attainment with more affluent neighbourhoods.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney plays with David Mckay and Library outreach worker Alison Nolan as he takes part in in a workshop at Newark Primary School, Port Glasgow. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The latest round of the Scottish Attainment Challenge funding will again go to the nine local authorities with the highest concentration of deprivation as well as 72 schools in poorer areas elsewhere.

The £750 million scheme was launched in 2015 to support projects to narrow the attainment gap between poorer pupils and their more affluent counterparts.

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Education Secretary John Swinney announced the funding breakdown during a visit to Newark Primary School holiday club in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, which was set up through previous attainment challenge funding for families to learn and play together.

He 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 providing £750 million during the course of this Parliament to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap by supporting hundreds of schools develop approaches to improve literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.”

The money will allow schools to target spending “where the need is greatest” in their own case, the minister added.

“This work, along with the introduction of Pupil Equity Funding, forms the backbone of our focus to target resources where they are needed the most whilst also empowering schools to ultimately improve the life chances of all children and young people in Scotland.”

Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith claimed a “postcode lottery” is being created since the latest funding goes to schools, not children. She said: “Whilst it is a welcome move in tackling the attainment gap, it falls short of addressing the gap that exists across the whole of Scotland. We have long argued that funding should follow the pupil and the current attainment fund fails to do so on the basis that it is targeted at schools.”

She added: “It is clear that deprived pupils in local authorities, such as Aberdeenshire and Perth and Kinross, will not benefit from this next wave of funding. This is worrying as it appears that a postcode lottery problem is emerging and deprived children will miss out.”