A PRIMARY school handed back £13,067 money earmarked for helping pupils to the Scottish Government, according to a report.

St Martin’s Primary in Renton had the underspend in pupil equity funding (PEF) designed to close the so-called attainment gap. They were granted £28,800 total.

It was part of a £3.38 million allocation from the government in 2017 but councillors on the education services committee heard it had been a learning curve in the first year.

Council officials said PEF money was not allowed to be carried over so had to be returned to Edinburgh.

The unspent money emerged just months after the same committee voted not to rebuild St Martin’s but to invest £850,000 to “patch” it up and review its future again in two years.

Against accusations of “closure by stealth” at the June meeting, council leader Jonathan McColl said: “This is the best we can do. It is simply not feasible to justify a new school which has so few kids on their school roll.”

The PEF money to West Dunbartonshire for 2018/19 has gone up to £3.43m but some schools saw a reduction in cash pots.
Claire Cusick, senior education officer, told the committee last week:

“The reduction in funding this year will be down to pupil numbers. It will not be some sort of punishment.

“Last year was a learning curve. This year we have put in quarterly reporting opportunities for schools.

“I can assure you the money allocated will be properly allocated and spent.”

Councillor McColl said it was “unfortunate” there had been coverage earlier this year of Clydebank High spending £11,955.87 on a pool car to help pupils access a youth worker or support work at the council’s family hub project.

Cllr McColl said: “You absolutely don’t want to money to go back [to Edinburgh] and that’s unfortunate.

“It didn’t help that one of our schools purchased a car and then the local press decided to run negative stories about it. It makes teachers wary about what they can spend money on.”

The report to councillors last week highlights a handful of project examples at schools.