‘No need’ to change kids’ clubs
Council stands by system
D i s a d vantaged children in Rutherglen and Cambuslang are not being excluded from extracurricular activities because of cost, South Lanarkshire Council has said.
The local authority said reform of its Active Schools programme is not needed after a national think tank argued that after-school clubs should be offered for free to all children who receive free school meals.
Reform Scotland said that the Active Schools programme, a partnership between councils and Sportscotland, is supposed to be free for all but some parents are being charged up to £ 39 per term per activity, depending on where they live.
Ke i r Bloomer of Reform Scotland said: “Evidence suggests that attendance in after-school activities is associated with positive academic and social outcomes for disadvantaged children in particular.
“As a re s u l t w e believe that the Scottish Government should consider using some of the budget it has created for closing the attainment gap to ensure disadvantaged pupils have access to free after-school activities.
“The Active Schools programme offers an easy way of delivering this policy.
“While it is up to local authorities and their leisure trusts to decide and justify their own charging schemes for Active Schools, we hope that they will explain their decision to parents.
“Even with a nominal fee of £1-2 per week, this can be prohibitive to a struggling family with a couple of children wanting to participate in a couple of activities.
“Ideally we would want all children to be given an equal opportunity but as a first step we are calling for all children in receipt of free school meals to also be in receipt of free Active Schools programmes instead of being subject to a postcode lottery as they are at present.”
South Lanarkshire Council said it has no need to take additional measures as the vast majority of its activities are already free of charge.
Statistics provided by the council show that 109 of the 111 after-school clubs delivered in 18 primary schools in Rutherglen and Cambuslang in term one were free to all.
And records from 2015/16 show that 47.7 per cent of the 4619 primary school children at the 18 schools attended an afterschool activity.
Commenting on the £ 100,000 given to eight schools in the area to close the attainment gap, a spokesman for the council said it is up to each individual school to decide how the additional money is spent.
He said: “Joint planning between Active Schools coordinators and headteachers takes place on a regular basis to ensure sessions and projects are available to those children and families facing inequalities.”
Joint planning takes place regularly