Changes to schools funding allocation agreed

THE allocation of £1.4 million of Government funding to tackle the impact of low expectations and deprivation in Borders schools is being changed so that the money is channelled into the schools where it is most needed.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 7th July 2010, 11:34 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th July 2010, 11:34 am

A working group of head teachers from across the region has spent a year looking at the current distribution of the Borders share of the National Priorities Fund and their findings went before Scottish Borders Council's education executive last week.

The executive approved the changes proposed by the group, which include a greater percentage of the money going to the schools in areas where deprivation is highest according to the Borders Deprivation Index published in January this year.

As expected there are winners and losers: Burnfoot Primary in Hawick, Eyemouth Primary, Langlee Primary in Galashiels, Hawick High School and Galashiels Academy between them will share over 675,000 of the 1.4 million - each one getting between 106,767 and 166,461.

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In Berwickshire, Gordon Primary and Coldstream Primary will each get a much lower share of the National Priorities Funding than they have had in the past - Gordon down from 16,241 to 1,196, and Coldstream down from 24,000 to 2,065.

To give schools that will see a reduction in their funding a chance to readjust their budgets the new allocations will not fully come into effect until August 2011 and a full report on the impact of the changes will be made to the education executive in June 2012.

The National Priorities Fund money is divided into seven sections: additional support staff; integrated community schools; additional early years staffing (primary schools); early intervention (primary schools); deprivation teachers; and the Determined to Succeed grant which is divided into two, the second section for additional allocations to secondary schools.

Eyemouth Primary School's share of the funding will jump from 58,103 to 113,746, with additional funding for early years staffing and early intervention programmes.

The working group who looked at the funding allocation was set up following a national report published in 2007 called 'Improving the Odds - Improving Life Chances'.

It concluded that Scottish schools were facing a challenge to "reduce the achievement gap that opens up at Primary 5 and continues to widen through the early years of secondary school".

The report continued: "Children from poorer communities and low socio-economic status homes are more likely to underachieve than others, while the gap associated with poverty and deprivation in local government areas appears to be very wide."

Scottish Borders Council's education and lifelong learning department are "committed to ensuring that every pupil in Scottish Borders achieve their full potential and are specifically committed to improving the life chances of the 20 per cent of pupils currently under-achieiving".

Some children are at a disadvantage as soon as they start school as they lack social skills which makes it difficult for them to cope with what is expected of them in a learning environment, which often impacts on the rest of the class.

They are often from backgrounds where there is a culture of low expectations and family issues such as drugs/alcohol, there is little parental support and the bureaucracy and paperwork involved in their support can be enormous, placing additional burdens on the school.

By putting more resources into schools with a higher percentage of pupils with a background of social deprivation it is expected that the learning experience for all pupils will improve, as the impact on the rest of the class should reduce.

The Borders Deprivation Index ranges from 1-10 with 1 being the highest level of social deprivation and 10 the least. Across the Borders there are 2,508 pupils (15.48%) in the four highest categories and the National Priorities Fund is being targeted at schools with above average numbers in these categories.

The only exception to the new formula is the allocation of three additional deprivation teachers in primary schools with a high proportion of pupils in categories 1 and 2 to "allow the maximum impact to be made in ensuring that these children have the best start in life".