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Plans to tackle school attainment gap revealed

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Renfrewshire education bosses have revealed plans to take their groundbreaking work to end the poverty attainment gap to a new level.

Earlier this year, the area became one of nine councils in the Scottish Attainment Challenge, meaning a share of a £750m national pot designed to close the gap in results between the most and least affluent pupils.

Five Renfrewshire primary schools were already part of an earlier phase of the programme – and more local schools will directly benefit from the next stage of work over the coming two years.

And councilors on Renfrewshire’s Education and Children Policy Board have now approved a report outlining the council’s initial proposals to spend the cash, with a more detailed action plan to be submitted to the Scottish Government later this year.

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Councillor Jacqueline Henry, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children Policy Board, said: “Closing the attainment gap between the most and least affluent pupils is one of the biggest priorities of this council.

“Renfrewshire Council is already recognised as leading the way in Scotland in taking on child poverty, through the innovative work being taken forward by our £6m Tackling Poverty Fund.

“That includes practical measures such a cost-of-the-school-day fund to ease the financial pressures on parents, and breakfast clubs for pupils in deprived areas.

“But we are already doing as much as we can with the resources available to us – that is why we pushed for Renfrewshire to be included in the Scottish Attainment Challenge, and are glad the Scottish Government recognised that need.

“This extra funding will be used to take work we are already doing to a new level.

“For example, we are already one year into our innovative programme to develop literacy skills in partnership with the University of Strathclyde, which offers intensive professional development to staff.

“Early indications show that is making a real difference, and one of the key proposed uses of this funding will be to expand the scope and pace of that work around our schools, and ensure even more children can benefit.”

The proposals put to councilors also include appointing specialist staff to focus on the social and emotional learning of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, new approaches to develop numeracy, and work to increase the role of the family in learning.

The five schools already benefiting from attainment challenge funding are Glencoats, Gallowhill, St Fergus and St Catherine’s in Paisley, and St David’s in Johnstone.

They were picked due to the percentage of pupils living in areas deemed to have the most severe deprivation.

Over the past year they have had extra resource for areas including literacy, numeracy, and staff development, and it is proposed that a still-to-be-decided number of schools will now directly benefit from similar programmes over 2016/7 and 2017/8.

However, the aim is for a universal approach which gives all local schools the chance to benefit, while targeting resources where they will have most impact.

ENDS

For more information, call Colin Orr, Renfrewshire Council Communications Unit, on 0141 618 7348.

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