‘No need’ to change kids’ clubs

Coun­cil stands by sys­tem

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Edel Ke­nealy

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

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