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Poorest schools in Scotland receive share in £120m fund to cut attainment gap

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​The government cash is to be used by headteachers in any way they see fit

More than 2,300 schools are to share £120 million extra funding to reduce the attainment gap between pupils coming from rich and poor areas.

The Scottish Government announced the cash which is being distributed across all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities with schools in less affluent backgrounds receiving more.

This additional support is worth thousands of pounds to each school and crucially can be spent at the discretion of teachers to close the poverty related attainment gap in their schools.

Allocations were based on the number of pupils from P1 to S3 known to be eligible for free school meals, with schools receiving around £1,200 per pupil.

Glasgow City received £21.6m, the highest amount, with 18,002 eligible pupils compared with the Shetland Islands which received £188,400.

The funding has been welcomed by Barnardo’s Scotland.

It has been working with some of the most disadvantaged communities in Scotland including supporting school staff and families to work together to engage in each child’s learning.

Martin Crewe, the charity’s director, said it is right the focus was on those where more children were likely to be living in poverty.

“Our own work in partnership with nurseries, primary and secondary schools and communities demonstrates that where the right support is in place pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds can and will get the most from their education,” Crewe said.

“One of the key things we have learned through our partnership working with schools is that closing the gap in attainment requires support for families before and beyond the school gates.

“This means focusing on the importance of attachment before children start formal education when they are in primary school and practical family support with difficulties at home.”

The funding was announced by deputy first minister John Swinney at Dalmarnock Primary School in Glasgow’s east end, which is in line to receive £278,400.

He said: “I want every child in Scotland to have the best possible start in life, and it is unacceptable for children from the poorest backgrounds to have their chances limited by circumstances outside their control.

“The allocations I am announcing today will let parents, teachers and school leaders see how much funding their schools will receive in 2017-18 to help break the inter-generational cycle of deprivation.”

Dalmarnock primary head teacher Nancy Clunie added: "This additional funding will make a huge difference to the children at our school.

“We already do a lot of work with our partners to put on activities involving parents to improve the health and wellbeing of the whole family, as less stressed children make better learners. The pupil equity funding will enable us to expand these activities."