Primary school communities have their say on the ‘cost of the school day’

Councillor Russell Imrie
Councillor Russell Imrie

A Midlothian project aimed at reducing the disadvantage families on low incomes can experience, has seen high levels of participation from children, their families, parent council members and school staff.

Carried out in the early part of 2018 with support from Scottish Government Community Choices and Midlothian Council funding, the project used ‘Participatory Budgeting’ as a method to enable local people to discuss and make decisions on how the money should be spent.

This involved working with seven primary schools in the council’s three priority areas – Mayfield and Easthouses, Woodburn and Gorebridge.

Projects were developed by children aged 8 to 12, parent council representatives and teaching staff from Saltersgate School, Gorebridge, Stobhill, Mayfield, Lawfield, St David’s and Woodburn primaries. Participants agreed which projects should go forward to the decision making process. They then voted at parents’ evenings and at other school events such as sports days and concerts. Those taking part were also able to go online to make their choices.

Across the seven school communities, a total of 1573 people voted with £58,404 allocated to projects that will have a positive impact on the lives of young people and their families and remove potential barriers to taking part in school activities. Examples include subsidies for theatre trips, homework clubs, healthy breakfast clubs and support for Parent Councils to provide free activities for children and their families.

Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for communities, Councillor Russell Imrie, said: “This innovative programme has seen high levels of involvement from school children, their families, carers, parent councils and school staff. Using their experience and knowledge, they have helped put together a fantastic range of worthwhile projects. In doing so, they have had a direct impact on the way money has been spent, helping reduce the disadvantage families on low incomes face in meeting the cost of the school day.”

You can find out more about the successful projects agreed by each of the schools by visiting the ‘Help decide funding’ section of the council’s website at www.midlothian.gov.uk/yourcommunity