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First Minister meets pupils and teachers as new school year begins.
The start of the new school year will see a continued focus on improving attainment in education, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today, as she met pupils and staff at Burnfoot Community School in Hawick on the first day of the new term.
Burnfoot is one of two primaries in the Scottish Borders benefiting from the Scottish Attainment Challenge Primary Schools Programme, part of the £750 million that the Scottish Government intends to invest in the Attainment Scotland Fund over the course of this parliament.
The First Minister confirmed that the next allocation of £2.8 million from the Attainment Scotland Fund will be distributed to 46 primaries - across 12 local authorities - in which significant numbers of pupils live in deprived areas. There are now more than 300 schools in total benefiting from the Attainment Fund.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
"As a new school year begins today, pupils and parents here at Burnfoot Community School are looking ahead to an exciting and stimulating year of learning.
"I am determined that every child must have the same opportunities and an equal chance to succeed. That's why our top priority is raising attainment overall and closing the gap in achievement between young people in our most and least deprived areas.
"At schools in areas of deprivation across the country, teachers are already developing innovative approaches to improving literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing. At Burnfoot, for example, there has been a significant focus on family support, family learning programmes and links with the wider community.
"Thousands of pupils have already benefited from the Attainment Scotland Fund in the last year and a further £2.8 million for primary schools this year will increase the pace of change.
"The Attainment Fund sits within our wider programme of school reform. Our Education Delivery Plan sets outs the wider actions we are determined to take to deliver a world class education system - including new standardised assessment to inform teacher judgement, greater transparency around school attainment, action to further empower local leadership within schools and direct more resources to headteachers, a focus on reducing the unnecessary workload of teachers and the simplification of Curriculum for Excellence. Delivering those commitments will help ensure that we realise our ambition for excellence and equity for every child and young person in Scotland."
Scottish Borders Council's Executive Member for Education, Councillor Sandy Aitchison said:
"Burnfoot Community School is an excellent example of the work taking place across Borders' schools in particular to close the attainment gap in our Early Years and Primary schools.
"The school has initiated a range of interventions aimed at closing the gap and since joining the Scottish Attainment Challenge this work has intensified. This has had a tremendous impact on children and their families including improved attainment in reading, writing and numeracy, as well as improved attendance of pupils.
"For example, the school has seen an increase in reading attainment in primary 1 of 45% and Primary 4 of 58%; an increase in writing attainment in primary 1 of 16%, Primary 4 of 57% and primary 7 of 25% and an increase in numeracy attainment in Primary 1 of 35%.
"Attendance has also significantly improved and the number of exclusions has reduced dramatically by 23% between school session 2014/15 and session 2015/16."
Find out more about the Scottish Attainment Challenge at: https://education.gov.scot/improvement/Pages/sac1tosac11scottishattainmentchallenge.aspx
The 46 primary schools to benefit from the Attainment Scotland Fund in 2016-17 are:
Riverbank School, Manor Park School, Tullos School, Bramble Brae School
Argyll & Bute
Rosneath Primary School
Dumfries & Galloway
Sighthill Primary School, St Catherine's RC Primary School, Clovenstone Primary School, St Francis' RC Primary School, Craigroyston Primary School, Niddrie Mill Primary School, Canal View Primary School, Castleview Primary School
Langlees Primary School
St Serf's R C Primary School, Inzievar Primary School, St Kenneth's R C Primary School, Southwood Primary School, Warout Primary & Community School, Pathhead Primary School,
Milton Primary School, Coulhill Primary School, Bishop Eden Primary School, South Primary School (Wick), Merkinch Primary School
Burnfoot Community School, St Margaret's RC Primary School (Hawick)
Dalmilling Primary School, Newton Primary School, Braehead Primary School
St Mark's Primary School (Rutherglen), James Aiton Primary School, Beckford Primary School, Carstairs Junction Primary School, Burgh Primary School, St Paul's Primary School, Auchinraith Primary School, Cathkin Primary School, Loch Primary School, Robert Smillie Memorial Primary School, Hareleeshill Primary School, Rigside Primary School
Raploch Primary School
Bridgend Primary School, St Thomas' Primary School