NEW cash for schools to tackle the attainment gap could make inequality worse, it has been warned.

Clydebank schools are getting more than £1.3 million direct from the Scottish Government to head teachers to tackle the attainment gap between pupils of better off and poorer backgrounds.

Councillor John Mooney, deputy convener of educational services for West Dunbartonshire, said the extra investment would be better targeted to early years provision and supporting families through services of the health and social care partnership (HSCP) to tackle deprivation earlier and more broadly.

He also said the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) data would have been a better way to calculate funding for schools rather than the number of pupils eligible for free school meals.

Cllr Mooney told the Reporter: "Any additional funding to raise attainment is, of course, very welcome, especially in areas of deprivation, like West Dunbartonshire. I will also make it clear that all of the resources we have available in educational services are dedicated to raising attainment, not just this additional funding.

"I can assure parents and students that we are determined to make the very best use of all of the resources available to us to raise attainment and increase the life chances of our young people.

"But I am afraid that the policy is well-intentioned but poorly though out and rather incoherent strategically."

Cllr Mooney agreed with comments last week from parents' representative Iain Ellis and Cllr Denis Agnew expressing concerns about how the figures were calculated for individual schools.

He continued: "At a recent education conference which I attended, the education minister stated that, 'It is all about schools'. Really? What about early education? What about services for the under-fives and their parents provided by our HSCP?

"The additional attainment funding does not take into account nurseries or health and social care services. Early development is crucial to success in education and in life generally. So this approach is too narrow in its focus, does not assess poverty accurately, has no effective management plan, and may, in fact, lead to further inequalities.

"Inequalities might result from failure to address early years provision. It might also result from imprecise targeting causing large differences in funding allocated to schools in the same area. The use of SIMD data would have allowed more precise targeting. Statutory responsibility remains with the local authority, as does management responsibility in practice."

Cllr Mooney also expressed concerns that schools don't have time or management capacity to deal with the extra funding effectively and it could put a strain on over-burdened senior staff. But he said the council will support the schools through this as much as possible.

Michael Dolan, with the EIS in West Dunbartonshire, said teachers were broadly in favour of any increase in resources to schools.

He said: "We welcome any increase in funding to schools to support raising attainment and the management of that and channels through which that comes in are experimental and we will watch the implementation of that with interest.

"There is a good working relationship between the local authority and the schools and they have a plan in terms of managing resources."