An innovative smart travel project developed by Renfrewshire Council has inspired a wider Scottish Government scheme to tackle the attainment gap.

Renfrewshire is one of the first three local authorities chosen to take part in the new national Young Scot Attainment Challenge partnership, which will enable young people to take part in activities and opportunities and get the most out of their Young Scot National Entitlement Card (NEC).

The project by the Scottish Government, Young Scot and partnering local authorities, was launched today in Paisley by Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney, with some of the young people it will benefit.

The partnership scheme with Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government Improvement Service, will run over three years and eventually involve six councils, with the first stage also focussing on North Ayrshire and the Highlands.

It follows the success of an earlier initiative by Renfrewshire Council which harnessed the smart chip technology in the Young Scot Card, where bus tickets for local company McGill’s were pre-loaded onto the cards.

The project will help young people to be more mobile and be able to attend groups, clubs, health activities or opportunities which might not have been possible because of distance or cost.

It also offers specific groups of young people Young Scot Card discounts with opportunities focussing on health and well-being.

They are also offered the opportunity to volunteer and take part in skills development during Year of Young People and at the same time collect Young Scot rewards and experiences along the way.

The project aims to support the Raising Attainment Challenge by improving their access to services and experiences that can help make a difference to their lives.

Renfrewshire’s Year of Young People Champion, Cllr Michelle Campbell, said: “We are pleased and proud that the work of the Council’s Youth Services and our partners has inspired the Young Scot Attainment Project.

“We want to ensure that all young people reach their potential no matter what their start in life and this project allows us to make sure all young people across Renfrewshire have access to learning and other opportunities.

“Financial barriers, such as transport and the cost of the school day are reduced, which raises the ambitions of young people and helps their money go further.

“At the heart of the project has always been to offer targeted help without stigma and in the Year of Young People, through this groundbreaking initiative we can continue to tackle inequalities and improve attainment for all our young people.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “We know that educational inequality can have significant repercussions. It is totally unacceptable that some young people have their life chances narrowed by circumstances out of their control.

“That is why I am extremely pleased to launch the Young Scot Attainment Challenge partnership today, an exciting new project which offers a totally different approach to supporting improvement in attainment, challenging rural poverty and tackling inequalities in a non-stigmatising way.

“By using the Young Scot card, young people can access services and products that may otherwise be inaccessible to them – it is such a simple idea but could make the world of difference.

“The Scottish Government is committed to closing the attainment gap in our schools and addressing the root causes of poverty and inequality. This project will help to deliver on that ambition, address inequalities facing young people living in Scotland, close the attainment gap and empower young people to reach their full potential.”

Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot said: “The Young Scot Attainment Challenge partnership is such an exciting and innovative way to bring some meaningful bespoke entitlements to young people. Through the Young Scot card we can continue to close the attainment gap across Scotland.”