Almost 40 local schools are in line to benefit from a multi-million-pound cash boost designed to target help to pupils living in deprived areas.

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Renfrewshire was this year confirmed as one of nine council areas to benefit from Scottish Attainment Challenge funding – a £750m national pot for projects designed to help improve the results of pupils from less-affluent backgrounds.

And councilors will next week be asked to approve a detailed plan of action laying out where they want that money to go over the next two years.

That includes:
– work to extend the scope and pace of Renfrewshire’s existing primary schools literacy programme, run in partnership with the University of Strathclyde;
– reviewing maths teaching across the area and creating a numeracy action plan;
– a focus on health and wellbeing, and the role of the family in supporting learning;
– work to develop staff leadership skills, and to better measure pupil results;

The area has been awarded £1.5m funding for 2016/7, and more money will follow in each of the next four years, subject to confirmation by the Scottish Government.

Five Renfrewshire primary schools had already been included in an earlier version of the scheme but it is proposed a further 15 join this year, and ten more in 2017/18, while it is expected nine of the 11 local secondary schools will directly benefit.

The schools chosen were the ones with the highest proportion of pupils living in areas classed as within Scotland’s most deprived 20%.

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children Services policy board, said: “We are ambitious for our schools and want them to be regarded as among the best in Scotland.

“But, in common with most authorities, children living in deprived areas of Renfrewshire fare worse than their more affluent counterparts across a range of measures – not just in terms of results but on issues which feed into that, such as absence rates and the likelihood of being excluded from school.

“Renfrewshire Council sees tackling that gap in attainment between the most and least affluent pupils as one of our biggest priorities.

“We are already working to achieve that through a number of innovative education projects in our ground-breaking £6m Tackling Poverty programme.

“But there is only so much the council can do within the reducing financial settlement we receive from the Scottish Government.

“For that reason we were pleased they agreed with our case for Renfrewshire to be included in the Scottish Attainment Challenge funding.

“One of the main proposed uses of that money is to extend our existing primary schools literacy programme – which is changing the way our teachers teach children to read, and offering professional development opportunities unique within Scotland.

“If approved by councilors, it will also fund a wide-ranging programme of other initiatives which will build on the good work already happening across Renfrewshire.”