The Attainment Scotland Fund criterion is unfair on rural areas such as Dumfries & Galloway. That’s the message from Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Education Committee, Councillor Jeff Leaver, and Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray.
The fund is currently awarded using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, in which 70% of pupils in a school must live within the 20% most deprived areas in Scotland. However this method is directly prejudiced against more rural, less dense populations.
The Fund is designed to improve literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing for primary school pupils, however with the current criteria, only one school in Dumfries & Galloway, Kelloholm Primary, is to receive any funding compared with over 300 schools in the rest of Scotland.
Councillor Jeff Leaver has written to the Scottish Governments Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Angela Constance MSP, to offer a fairer approach to the awarding of the Attainment Fund for schools in the region using free school meal entitlement as currently 78% of pupils who would qualify for free school meals based on their family income live outwith those 20% most deprived zones within Dumfries & Galloway.
Cllr Jeff Leaver said:
“When only one primary school out of the 104 in Scotland’s lowest paid region is eligible for the Attainment Scotland Fund, and only one out of the more than 300 which are eligible in the rest of Scotland, something isn’t right. The current criterion for the awarding of the Fund is unfair for rural regions such as Dumfries & Galloway. If the Scottish Government were to identify areas and schools of deprivation in our region using free school meal entitlement rather than the urban suited Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, we would see a much fairer share of the Attainment Scotland Fund.”
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray added:
“If the Scottish Government are serious about tackling the attainment gap in Dumfries & Galloway then they should seriously consider adopting this method of identifying deprivation in rural areas. Despite the Scottish Governments one size fits all approach, not all communities in Scotland are the same. The population density in our region is much too low for schools to ever be granted a fairer chunk of the Attainment Scotland Fund using the current urban biased method.”