Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has slammed the SNP’s decision to scrap a crucial fund for schools in deprived areas, as new figures reveal it will cut hundreds of thousands of pounds from schools in the south of Scotland.

Last week the SNP confirmed a slew of changes to their education funding – including plans to abolish the Scottish Attainment Challenge Schools Programme altogether.

This fund provided £7 million of direct funding for the 73 most deprived schools, outwith the nine most deprived local authorities, to aid attainment of the poorest pupils.

According to figures obtained from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre by Scottish Labour, in 2020/21, Scottish Borders received £173,525 through this important scheme. Dumfries and Galloway received £137,343, South Ayrshire £398,161 and South Lanarkshire £1,952,129.

The cut is part of wider reform of the Scottish Attainment Challenge, which will see a total of £25.5 million cut from its programmes and £43 million re-allocated, with the most deprived areas facing the most savage cuts.

The local MSP has described these cuts as “grotesque”, saying the move shows the SNP have abandoned their pledge to close the attainment gap in Scotland.

Colin Smyth said: “These grotesque cuts are designed to hit the most deprived young people in our region.

“Schools are desperately trying to get back on track after the pandemic wreaked havoc with our education system. It beggars belief that the SNP would choose this moment to make such devastating cuts to the poorest children’s education.

“The SNP might speak of education recovery, but they are stripping away funds for the pupils who need them most.

“It is astounding to see the SNP try and dress these changes up as progress, while pocketing millions of pounds from the most disadvantaged schools.

“They have well and truly abandoned any attempt to close Scotland’s shameful attainment gap.”

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