Pupils from some of Midlothian’s most deprived areas are closing the attainment gap thanks to innovative new projects introduced by headteachers.
Schools in the county received more than £2.2 million in pupil equity funding (PEF) from the Scottish Government to help tackle the gap between the poorest and least deprived youngsters.
And education chiefs have revealed that a wide range of initiatives have led to an increase in attainment levels among the most deprived youngsters.
The latest figures show that among the SIMD1 and 2 pupils – the most deprived categories – performances have gone up in almost every area.
A report to Midlothian Council’s cabinet compared performances among pupils in P1, P4 and P7 as well as S3, over the 2016/2017 school year to last year.
It revealed some huge improvements, with the biggest among P7 writing standards which went from 42.57 per cent to 65.38 per cent over the year.
Among the initiatives introduced were a home school practitioner, mentoring vulnerable groups, providing healthy snacks and providing access to play therapy.
Acting head of education Maria Lloyd told cabinet that as well as improving performance “attendance has improved and exclusions have reduced”.
Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) welcomed the improvements, admitting he had doubts when PEF was first introduced.
He said: “I had concerns that when this amount of resources came straight to schools it would result in huge companies making contact with headteachers promising schemes but that has not transpired to any big degree.
“I am pleased to see some of the innovations we have seen. It is good to see the range of creative interventions which are taking place. It is clearly working in terms of results, particularly in SIMD1 and 2.”
Dr Mary Smith, director of education, said that in some areas, such as Newbattle, schools had combined their PEF to create wider projects, including a summer programme which brought children from across the area together and was a success.
She said: “It is not just about individual schools working on thier own, it is about working with other agencies and groups.”
Council leader Derek Milligan (Lab) said staff should be praised for the work they had done to make the funding work.
He said: “This is a really positive story.”