KIDS in West Dunbartonshire are lagging behind pupils in the rest of the country - despite a government cash injection of almost £5 million.

In recent years, the Scottish Government has been working to close the attainment gap between different schools and local authorities, which see pupils struggle more than their counterparts elsewhere.

As part of the initiative, ministers identified nine "challenge authorities", where children's performance at school was lagging behind.

West Dunbartonshire was identified as one such authority.

The authorities were eligible for extra funding, which could be used to bring the authority back in line.

Since the creation of the Attainment Scotland Fund in the 2015-16, WDC has been given a total of £4.89 million in extra cash from Holyrood.

However, results in a recent report show that just 66.8 percent - just over two thirds - are meeting reading targets.

The results fall almost five percent short of the national average.

The picture for maths is better, but still falls short of the government target, with 74 percent of kids in West Dunbartonshire schools meeting their numeracy targets, compared to 78.4 percent in the rest of Scotland.

In the report, which was published by the Scottish Government recently, shows that the attainment gap has actually increased in West Dunbartonshire, despite the extra funding injection.

Exclusion rates from secondary schools have also climbed massively, with the number of secondary pupils from the most deprived backgrounds being excluded per 1,000 of pupils in the area jumping from 81 in the 2014-15 school year - which was well below the Scottish average of 95.2 - to 133, a rise of 64 percent.

The number of affluent pupils being excluded from WDC secondary schools also saw a jump, from 23.3 to 30, during the same period.

Despite the bleak picture painted by the statistics, the attendance rates of pupils in the Dumbarton and the Vale was either in step with the Scottish average, or had exceeded it in 2017-18.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: "We are investing £750 million over this Parliamentary term to tackle the attainment gap and, while we realise that this will take time, we are seeing progress.

“Education Scotland inspections found West Dunbartonshire Council is making very good progress improving learning, raising attainment and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap. We continue to work closely with partners to support schools develop and deliver targeted interventions to help all children reach their potential, regardless of background.”

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: “The Attainment Scotland fund has been used to support improvements in attainment and achievement with projects focussing on core skills, targeted interventions and widening the range of pupil and family learning opportunities. Our attainment is consistently improving with 79% of our young people achieving the standard literacy and numeracy level for their age, and through targeted interventions and support we will ensure this trend continues. In 2018 Education Scotland assessed the impact of our Attainment Challenge and Pupil Equity Fund projects and recognised the very positive progress we were making in raising attainment among pupils in West Dunbartonshire.”