Council succeeds in funding bid for community choices project

An innovative Midlothian project aimed at reducing inequalities has been awarded £40,000 in funding from the Scottish Government’s Community Choices fund.

Support for local decision making

The funding, which helps support a form of local decision making called participatory budgeting, has been awarded to Midlothian Council. It will be used as part of an £80,000 initiative aimed at reducing the disadvantage poorer families experience in meeting the cost of the school day.

Initiative covers 11 primary schools

Focused on the Mayfield, Woodburn and Gorebridge areas, the initiative will cover 11 primary schools - St David’s, Kings Park, Woodburn, Saltersgate, Mayfield, St Luke’s, Lawfield, Gorebridge, Stobhill, St Andrews and Gore Glen.  It will involve working with children, parents, carers, teachers and the wider community, using workshop sessions and other activities to raise awareness and generate ideas. 

'Poverty proofing' the school day

The programme builds on research Midlothian Council is currently undertaking on ‘poverty proofing’ the school day, in partnership with Edinburgh University, NUS Dissertations for Good and the Child Poverty Action Group. It also builds on the success earlier this year of the ‘Food Glorious Food’ participatory budgeting programme, which gave residents in the same Midlothian communities a say on how money should be spent to support local healthy eating and food related projects.

Reducing inequalities

“Cutting the cost of the school day for parents and carers is an ideal way of both reducing inequalities and raising educational attainment,” said Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Councillor Russell Imrie. "Midlothian Council is delighted to be able to match fund this ambitious project which looks set to have a real impact in tackling this key area of inequality.”

Removing financial barriers

The Director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, John Dickie, added:

“Child Poverty Action Group is delighted that Midlothian Council is taking this initiative to identify and remove financial barriers to full participation at school. Too many children and young people aren’t able to get the most out of the school day because of the cost of school trips, clothing, activities, transport and materials. If we are serious about closing the attainment gap this is exactly the kind of approach that is needed.”

The new project is expected to get underway early next year.

19 Oct 2017