Cash un­spent

Gov­ern­ment cash was to help most de­prived kids

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Edel Ke­nealy

More than £600,000 dished out to South La­nark­shire Coun­cil to close the at­tain­ment gap has been left un­spent.

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil was awarded £1.925 mil­lion from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s At­tain­ment Chal­lenge Schools Pro­gramme in the 2016/17 school year.

More than £600,000 dished out to South La­nark­shire Coun­cil to bet­ter the life chances of chil­dren from some of the most de­prived ar­eas in the coun­try has not been spent.

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil was awarded £1.925 mil­lion from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s At­tain­ment Chal­lenge Schools Pro­gramme in the 2016/17 school year.

But the lo­cal au­thor­ity failed to spend more than one third of the to­tal cash avail­able, £609,000, which will re­main with the gov­ern­ment.

The money was sup­posed to be used in schools where a large por­tion of the chil­dren live in poverty.

It was to be in­vested in ini­tia­tives that would close the at­tain­ment gap be­tween those chil­dren and their coun­ter­parts from more af­flu­ent ar­eas.

In one Ruther­glen school alone – St Mark’s Pri­mary – £28,000 was not spent.

The Blair­beth school had been al­lo­cated £71,000 be­cause it has a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of chil­dren who come from lev­els one or two of the Scot­tish In­dex of Mul­ti­ple De­pri­va­tion.

Yvonne Jack­son, of St Mark’s Pri­mary’s Par­ent Coun­cil, said the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment must look again at how the at­tain­ment chal­lenge is de­liv­ered, stat­ing it was fail­ing the chil­dren it is sup­posed to sup­port.

“I’m re­ally up­set and taken aback at the scale of this un­der­spend,” Yvonne said.

“They have to be look­ing at why such a chunk of that money is not being spent. By say­ing to a lo­cal au­thor­ity you need ex­tra money be­cause you have these chil­dren in de­pri­va­tion, but the coun­cil are for what­ever rea­son un­able to spend that, that’s not good enough.”

Yvonne added: “The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment sent the par­ent teacher coun­cil a letter in June say­ing we are look­ing just now at the al­lo­ca­tion for the next ses­sion. Why is this hap­pen­ing at the end of June?

“When are teach­ers go­ing to be told in or­der to make plans? Surely now they should be plan­ning not for this aca­demic year com­ing but the fol­low­ing year.”

Anne Don­ald­son, head of ed­u­ca­tion at the coun­cil, said: “The fund­ing for the Scot­tish At­tain­ment Chal­lenge fund is a grant claim.

“South La­nark­shire’s 20 Scot­tish At­tain­ment Chal­lenge schools sub­mit­ted an early in­di­ca­tion of the sums that they en­vis­aged would be re­quired and a claim was sub­mit­ted at the end of the fi­nan­cial year for the ac­tual spend. As in the case of all plan­ning sit­u­a­tions, changes in­evitably oc­cur that have a re­sul­tant im­pact on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of plans.

“We are de­lighted to say that St Mark’s was able to progress its plan ef­fec­tively and that pos­i­tive out­comes have been achieved for the chil­dren.”

A spokes­woman for the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment said: “We con­tinue to work closely with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and schools to im­prove fi­nan­cial fore­cast­ing and to en­sure max­i­mum im­pact from the fund­ing avail­able.

“To as­sist in plan­ning use of their fund­ing, schools and head­teach­ers have ac­cess to a net­work of Ed­u­ca­tion Scot­land at­tain­ment ad­vi­sors and a range of online re­sources such as in­ter­ven­tions for equity which pro­vides in­no­va­tive ex­am­ples cur­rently being used across Scot­land aimed at clos­ing the poverty-re­lated at­tain­ment

You have to be look­ing at why such a chunk of that money is not being spent

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