Thirteen extra primary teachers are now in place in Renfrewshire thanks to a unique schools package that’s targeting an additional £1.16m towards closing the attainment gap.
As part of the attainment boost, a new literacy development programme is now under way to give every primary school extra tools and support – including the extra teachers – to improve reading.
The investment comes from the council’s £6m tackling poverty fund – and is delivering the literacy programme jointly with the University of Strathclyde to pioneer new approaches to closing the gap between pupils from low and high income households.
The council’s Leadership Board will hear a full update next week about how the poverty fund – approved this summer – is already delivering positive, on-the-ground benefits across communities.
As well as hiring 13 extra teachers, two additional social workers are also in place to boost support to looked after children, and Scotland’s first ever ‘cost of the school day’ fund is up and running to offer help to those families who need it most.
Three new Families First teams will launch in early 2016 to deliver a wide range of support to families in Gallowhill, Johnstone, and Foxbar, thanks to a £1m investment from the poverty fund.
Eight young people have also secured positions on the recently-launched sports coach academy that will prepare them for a job in the leisure industry and see them deliver 7,000 hours of coaching, support local voluntary groups and help with Families First sports camps.
And since being extended in June thanks to the fund, the Energy Advice Renfrewshire service has supported 257 households and generated £39,000 of on-going fuel savings.
Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said: “I am proud to see the real progress being made thanks to the £6m tackling poverty fund we announced in summer. Already, Renfrewshire Foodbank has received vital money to help people in crisis this winter, and our cost of the school day safety net for families is also now in place in schools.
“I welcome the fact our drive to close the attainment gap with additional teachers is now being delivering in our schools, and I’m pleased we’ve been working with the communities of Foxbar, Gallowhill and Johnstone to prepare for the introduction of the new Families First teams that will be launched in their areas in early 2016.
“The Leadership Board will hear a full update about the £6m pot – which boosts the existing investment already made by the council to support economic growth and regeneration. The fund is crucial and allows us to work towards achieving the recommendations – the legacy – of the independent Tackling Poverty Commission.”
Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children Policy Board, added: “The attainment gap starts early in life, widens at every stage of school and can have lifelong consequences. If we are to make a real difference to the lives of young people from low income households and close the attainment gap, we need to intervene early.
“It is clear that good reading and writing skills are the basic foundations young people need to access education and learning. I am delighted that we are working with Professor Sue Ellis and her team from Strathclyde University.”
Professor Sue Ellis from the University of Strathclyde, said: “Schools can do a lot to close the attainment gap linked to poverty. The Renfrewshire project is helping Head Teachers and teachers use the strongest research and make strategic, cost effective and sustainable changes to literacy teaching in schools. It is clear that Renfrewshire is committed to doing its very best to meet the needs of all children in the local authority.”