Rennie: Scotland’s children should benefit from the Pupil Premium

Willie Rennie is up in Aberdeen today, speaking to the local Chamber of Commerce. A major theme of his speech is the need to improve education. Schools budgets in Scotland are really struggling after 9 years of a Council Tax freeze.

Liberal Democrats have implemented the Pupil Premium in England and successfully made the case for it in Wales. Scotland is still lagging behind, despite a growing attainment gap.

Willie will say:

To get fit for the future our children and young people deserve the best education.

Just look at the reports from recent weeks: the OECD has warned that Scottish education is slipping from our world-beating position; the Scottish Government has missed its targets for early education for 2-year-olds by 75%; and more than 150,000 college places have been lost under the SNP.

And now the SNP have singled out local education authorities for a £500million cut to their budgets.

We can’t stand by and watch the destruction of education in Scotland.

We know that education is the essential investment that gives every child a chance to reach their potential.

Our plan involves investing in a Pupil Premium to help children who need extra support and tuition at school.  The money is for the pupil no matter where they live or what school they attend.  It has been successful in England at closing the attainment gap and I want Scotland’s children to benefit too.

The Pupil Premium with £2.5 billion a year has paid for breakfast clubs and one to one tuition; for extra staff and equipment; and for outreach programmes to help engage parents.

It gave schools more than just the money to act – it gave them the incentive to focus on poorer pupils, backed up by Ofsted accountability.

And it has made a tangible difference.

Primary School figures from England showed children from the poorest backgrounds getting their best ever results and the gap between them and their better off classmates narrowed.

The attainment gap between disadvantaged and other pupils narrowed by 4.7 percentage points in primary schools and 1.6 percentage points in secondary schools between 2011 and 2014.

We need to bring this to Scotland.

This is a big clue as to one of the key elements in the Scottish manifesto. We can expect more such announcements over the next few weeks until Scottish Conference.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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4 Comments

  • “150,000 college places have been lost” many were not being taken up, some classes ran with uneconomic numbers. other courses were simply staff job creation schemes.

  • The above article states that the attainment gap has narrowed, but isn’t that purely because the method of calculating it was changed?

  • What are you saying?

    1. Are you saying the LibDems should campaign for more funding from Westminster for the Scottish Parliament to pay for it.

    or

    2. LibDems should campaign for the Scottish parliament to raise their own funds to do it, for example by making Scottish students pay the same tuition fees as English students pay, and using the saved funds accordingly.

    I hope you mean 2, but it wouldn’t surprise me if many LibDems think 1 should apply,

  • @Bruce

    They were also predominantly short non vocational courses with no recognised qualification at the end.

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