After being identified as being in one of the most deprived areas in Scotland, a primary school is to get up to £80,000 to improve learning for pupils.
The Scottish Government announced a programme to tackle inequality in schools and try to close the gap between the most deprived areas and the most affluent.
A £12.9 million fund was allocated to build on initiatives to encourage numeracy, literacy and health for the poorest areas and Falkirk Council was identified as having one school eligible for the funding.
The Scottish Attainment Challenge was formed and, using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), Langlees Primary was identified as being within the funding criteria.
The primary has 78 per cent of pupils living in the top five per cent of the SIMD index and as a result will get between £20-80,000 each year for four years. The money will pay for an attainment advisor to work with the school and provide support to help bridge the gap.
Children from poorer areas do significantly worse in all levels of the education system, with those living in areas near the top of the SIMD index less likely to leave school with Highers or go on to further education.
In launching the scheme, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “There is evidence that the attainment in Higher passes of pupils from the most deprived areas has improved - though the gap with those from our least deprived areas remains far too wide.
“My aim - to put it bluntly - is to close the attainment gap completely. The basis for all of this is primary school education. It will not be done overnight - I accept that. But it must be done.
“After all, its existence is more than just an economic and social challenge for us all. It is a moral challenge. Indeed, I would argue that it goes to the very heart of who we are and how we see ourselves as a nation.”
The initiative was launched in July, with seven local authorities given the funding and has now expanded to include 57 schools.
The Scottish Attainment Challenge was discussed at a meeting of Falkirk Council’s education executive last week where councillors welcomed the extra cash for the district’s poorest area.
Alan Nimmo, education portfolio holder said: “This is great news, the money can go a long way in helping the children of Langlees.”
Councillor David Alexander said: “I’m happy to see the money is going to early education. Often the money is directed to high schools, but by the time a deprived child is at high school it is often sadly too late to bridge that attainment gap.”
The meeting heard that Easter Carmuirs and Carmuirs primary schools narrowly missed out on getting funding, falling into the top ten per cent of the index but that the ideas used in Langlees could be implemented in every school.
Councillor Adrian Mahoney said: “There are pockets of deprivation all over Falkirk but perhaps not big enough to make the index – we can use the ideas and initiative from Langlees in all our schools. Not just the most deprived.”
Falkirk Council will make a funding proposal for what they would do with the money, involving health care, police, libraries, social work and a focus on parents and the local community.
The progress report will then go to the Scottish Government later this month and a decision made on specific funding.
Falkirk Council hopes to qualify for £80,000 each school year.