Ensuring the health and wellbeing of pupils in Fife is the first step on the road to closing the poverty attainment gap.
And schools in the Kirkcaldy area have begun a range of measures, with money from the government’s Pupil Equity Fund, to help achieve that aim.
From setting up clubs to help pupils experiencing chaotic lifestyles to providing extra support in the classrooms, family support workers, psychologists and classes where pupils can learn alongside their parents, a whole range of things are being tried out to see what works best.
The funding was allocated directly to identified schools by the Scottish Government as part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge programme which started last year.
And schools in the Balwearie, St Andrew’s, Viewforth and Kirkcaldy High School clusters have been working together to come up with ways to tackle the wide range of problems experienced by children from families hit by poverty.
Fife schools received a total of £9.3 million, which each school’s allocation calculated using information from the Healthy Living Survey and Pupil Census based on the number of pupils registered for free school meals.
At the Kirkcaldy area committee on Tuesday head teachers from local primary schools who are leading their cluster groups gave a presentation on the work that has been started so far.
Kylie Watson, closing the gap development officer, told councillors: “Pupil Equality Funds are being used to directly target additional resources to address barriers in each of the schools.”
Ewan Trousdale, representing the Balwearie cluster, said: “We decided the best way forward was using much of the money to increase staff – employing early years officers and additional support staff to work with children to address the gap.
“Each school looked at its own gaps and what they can do to address them, but across the cluster the health and wellbeing of the child has to be in place before learning can happen.”
Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman of the committee raised a motion congratulating education and children’s services and head teachers on their work in implementing the Pupil Equity Fund initiative in Fife and welcoming the investment as another step towards the ultimate aim of eradicating poverty and inequality in Fife.
He said: “I am delighted to see the pupil equity direct funding to headteachers being used to bolster the early intervention and prevention agenda which put Fife to the leading edge in Scotland in closing the attainment gap. Dealing with inequality and poverty needs a healthy partnership psyche and our educationalists in Kirkcaldy area have that in spades.
“Recognising the barriers to closing attainment can’t begin to come down without the child’s health and wellbeing in a good place has been our conclusion locally for some years. It’s great the PEF is being used to support that conclusion.”